FERC

Federal Energy Regulatory Agency

The Federal Energy Regulatory Agency or The Commission, is charged by Congress with evaluating whether interstate natural gas pipeline projects proposed by private companies should be approved.  This authority, under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. S717f(c), allows FERC to issue a “certificate of public necessity and convenience” for the construction and operation of natural gas pipelines used to transport gas across state lines.  FERC does not have jurisdiction over the siting of intrastate natural gas pipelines nor for hazardous liquids.  

In addition to evaluating whether interstate natural gas pipeline projects proposed by private companies should be approved, FERC approves the location, construction, operation & abandonment of interstate pipelines, facilities and storage fields involved in moving natural gas across state boundaries. The Commission’s determination whether to approve such a project may affect you if your land is where a natural gas pipeline, other facilities, or underground storage fields might be located. You should know:
  1. How the Commission’s procedures work
  2. What rights you have
  3. How the location of a pipeline or other facilities is decided
  4. What safety and environmental issues might be involved  
FERC is based in Washington, DC and publishes detailed documents for citizens to access on line: 

"An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land?  What Do I Need to Know?”: Describes the FERC process and your involvement as a stakeholder including Prefiling, Filing and Intervener processes.

Major Pipelines on the Horizon: provides a national overview of proposed pipelines by project name, operator and MMcf/d

An excellent citizen resource for FERC process and legal representation can also be found with Carolyn Elefant at the Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant (LOCE), a law firm focusing on FERC energy practice and policy, emerging renewables (marine renewables, offshore wind), federal siting and eminent domain. 

A former FERC lawyer, Carolyn has authored: Knowing and Protecting your Rights When an Interstate Pipeline Comes to Your Community   

A Citizen's FERC Tutorial

Guidance gleaned from involvement in Chester County pipeline projects:
  1. Stakeholders refers to all parties involved in pipeline issues.  Landowners are referred to as and considered to be stakeholders.
  2. A pipeline company or operator is an applicant.  The Applicant is not required to contact state and local agencies or landowners prior to submitting its pre-filing application to FERC.
  3. The Applicant identifies the stakeholders.  FERC does not mandate who shall be considered a stakeholder.
  4. Once an Applicant files a request to FERC to review its project, the Applicant begins to give notice to state and county agencies and all “affected” landowners as to where the project will be located.
  5. Notice to landowners by the Applicant, as required by law include must be made in a good faith effort by mail or by hand:
  6. Landowner required to receive good faith effort notification include:
    • landowners whose land will be crossed or used by the “proposed activity”
    • landowners whose land abuts the pipeline
    • landowners whose residence (house) is within 50’ of the proposed construction
  7. Notice is published in the FERC Federal Register and a local newspaper and will include: 
    • location of the pipeline
    • docket number of the filing
    • instructions on how to get a copy of the application (usually on the FERC website)
    • the date motions to intervene are due
 
  8. The Applicant will hold an “open house” to discuss the project.  You should attend even if your land does not appear to be directly impacted.  Obtain as much information about the proposed route as possible.  If it appears that the pipeline route will not cross your property, you should still File as an Intervener .  The route may change and cross or abut your property, and intervener status allows you to help protect the interests of your community, environment and watersheds.