Anti-pipeline protesters on Wednesday interrupted the first meeting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has held since January.
The FERC's agenda was light at it faces a backlog of pipeline cases, but that did not stop demonstrators singing "we shall overcome" and shouting "you should be ashamed" as the commission returned to business after being shut down for six months due to a lack of members.
The tumult was not unexpected. The FERC, which approves and regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and crude oil, has become a target in recent years for environmental groups that think its decisions don't account for the effects of climate change and favor pipelines that help drive shale energy development.
Protesters broadcast their intentions ahead of time by saying Tuesday they would "greet" FERC commissioners outside the headquarters starting at 8:30 a.m. and "will then take their concerns into FERC's open public meeting."
More than 100 organizations planned and endorsed the protest, mostly local and national environmental groups. There are more than 40 pipelines set to be considered by the FERC.
"Because of FERC's pro-industry stance on every aspect of pipeline review, approval and development, people across the nation are having their property rights taken, their forests cut down, their sense of safety and the value of their homes, businesses and agriculture taken from them," Maya van Rossum, the head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said in a statement.
"And we have yet to find a member of Congress willing to stand up and call for congressional hearings to investigate what is really happening with the FERC and pipelines. And so we have come to Washington, D.C. to make clear to FERC and to Congress, that FERC abuses communities and the environment, and we will not sit silent until we are heard and reforms are put in place."
In their limited public appearances, President Trump's picks to serve on the FERC have insisted they will be independent.
Nominees Kevin McIntyre, Trump's Republican FERC chairman-in-waiting, and Rich Glick, a Democratic attorney, sailed through their confirmation votes Wednesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and will soon get a vote before the full Senate.
McIntyre and Glick stressed in their confirmation hearing this month they would not favor one energy source over another, as some feared the FERC would move to compensate "baseload" power sources such as coal and nuclear for the low-cost reliability they provide to the grid.
Neil Chatterjee, a Republican Trump nominee who was already confirmed by the Senate, led Thursday's FERC meeting, and is serving as chairman until McIntyre is confirmed.
In a public hearing last week, Chatterjee would not commit to propping up coal and nuclear power sources, and said the FERC will study the issue.
Chatterjee at Thursday's meeting vowed the FERC will "work diligently" to try to help achieve the Trump administration's "laudable" energy goals, without ceding the commission's independence. The commission approved two rules supporting the resilience and reliability of the electric grid.