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NARUC seeks open communication with Trump team on energy policy issues

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners is seeking to open lines of communication with the new Trump administration, specifically on issues of pipeline safety, Yucca Mountain and re-balancing state authority on regulatory issues.

NARUC President Robert Powelson wrote in a Jan. 19 letter to the Trump team that its members look forward to a renewed relationship with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is charged with ensuring the safety of the nation's pipeline infrastructure. Powelson, a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, stressed the need to boost state funding to ensure adequate pipeline safety inspections.

The group would also like the new administration to remove restrictions placed on the Yucca Mountain repository for nuclear waste, clearing the way for the project to be completed.

"Given that a federal court found the deal to stop the licensing proceeding was contrary to law, there is no reason to continue the delay. Yucca Mountain remains a key priority for NARUC," Powelson wrote.

Powelson then outlined some general concerns the group has, such as federal regulations that undermine state policies on the allocation of generation resources, integrating net metering and transmission siting authority.

"Federal overreach has had a chilling effect on the ability of states to effectively regulate instrastate commerce," Powelson wrote.

Appealing to one of Trump's signature campaign promises — achieving energy independence — Powelson called for the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA, to be modernized to reflect the modern energy landscape.

"PURPA was enacted at a time when the United States faced tremendous uncertainty in the energy sector," Powelson said. "Today, the United States has the ability to become energy independent through robust domestic energy resources. So now more than ever we need to proactively develop a new national energy strategy that includes PURPA modernization."

Powelson invited representatives of the Trump administration to attend NARUC's February meeting in Washington, D.C., to hear concerns from states and address the group's members, and he offered to meet with members of the administration to discuss energy policy issues.