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US commission to review natural gas pipeline approval process

Natural Gas Pipeline Over Provo River. Source: Wikimedia Commons, by planetary_nebula.
Natural Gas Pipeline Over Provo River. Source: Wikimedia Commons, by planetary_nebula.

The evaluation comes as part of a pledge by the new chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to go over all departmental practices.

In his Senate approval hearing, the new Chairman, Kevin J. McIntyre, said that he would take ‘a fresh look’ at all commission policies.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval is required before the construction of any new pipeline that crosses state lines. Their decisions can be appealed in federal court. The 1999 order outlines the commission’s rubric for evaluating pipeline applications.

“I believe we in the government should constantly be examining our various processes and procedures to see if we can do anything better,” McIntyre said in a press release. “Much has changed in the energy world since 1999, and it is incumbent upon us to take another look at the way in which we assess the value and the viability of our pipeline applications.”

The specifics of the review have not been released, the Commission release saying that “the format and scope of the review are being discussed.”

The FERC is an independent body that regulates interstate movements of natural gas, oil and electricity. In February, the Commission lost quorum due to retirements, delaying decisions. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council cited an application backlog of over $50 billion’s worth of projects waiting for approval. The Commission regained quorum in August with the appointment of Robert Powelson and Neil Chatterjee. Chairman McIntyre was confirmed as chairman by the Senate 2 November 2017.

Natural Gas Pipeline Over Provo River. Source: Wikimedia Commons, by planetary_nebula.