Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee said the Office of General Counsel would reorganize to more expeditiously process requests for rehearing of Natural Gas Act (NGA) orders filed by affected landowners.
The announcement covering Section 7 certificate orders in the NGA builds on Chatterjee’s September 2019 pledge to refine the FERC process to prioritize rehearing requests involving landowner issues, with a target of issuing rehearing orders within 30 days and reducing the use of tolling orders.
At that time, Chatterjee designated attorneys in the rehearings group of the Solicitor’s Office to focus on rehearing requests involving landowner issues.
“Our objective is to reinforce the Commission’s commitment to ensure landowners are afforded a judicially appealable rehearing order as quickly as possible,” said Chatterjee.
“I am confident that this action will help substantially reduce the amount of time we take to issue rehearing orders in these critical cases,” stated the FERC Chairman.
The measure will improve landowner rights in large-scale pipeline projects, though also in the LNG feed-gas pipeline permit area where the infrastructure is less than 100 miles in length.
LNG export projects, particularly in the second wave of ventures being development along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, have many affiliate pipelines and sometimes more than one.
Under the plan, Chatterjee has directed the creation of a new Rehearings section within OGC, akin to the six existing sections in that office: Energy Markets 1 and 2, Energy Projects, General and Administrative Law, the Solicitor’s Office and the Dispute Resolution Service.
The FERC said the Rehearings section will have two separate groups, a Landowner Rehearings group and a General Rehearings group.
The Landowner Rehearings group will give first priority to landowner rehearing requests, and would work on other rehearing items only when time permits.
This allocation of resources, Chatterjee said, would allow for more timely action on expected landowner requests for rehearing.
“We are hopeful that these actions will help alleviate the very real landowner concerns about timing and fairness in infrastructure cases implicating landowner rights,” Chatterjee said.
“I remain committed to doing all we can to improve our FERC processes on this front,” he added.