The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is Biased in Favor of Pipeline Companies

by Duane Nichols on May 23, 2016

Existing Pipelines are Blue

FERC is Called “Biased Against Local Concerns”

From an Article by Dan Heyman, WV Public News Service, May 23, 2016

Charleston, WV — The federal agency that approves or denies gas pipelines is oriented against the concerns of landowners and communities, according to people working on the issues.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will decide on the huge pipelines competing to bring natural gas through West Virginia and Virginia to eastern markets.

Spencer Phillips, chief economist for Key-Log Economics, studied the impact of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).  He estimates it will hurt folks along the line to the tune of more than $8 billion. But Phillips says FERC is not designed or inclined to consider those costs.

“FERC’s approval process for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is really a rigged game,” says Phillips. “The agency’s procedures themselves, as well as their track record, mean that they ignore some really important cost to people and communities.”

According to a Washington lawyer who specializes in cases like these, FERC’s orientation is built into its legal DNA.  Carolyn Elefant, an energy attorney in Washington D.C., says the 1930s Natural Gas Act was passed at a time when the government wanted to encourage the development of needed infrastructure.

She says it gave regulators the power to use eminent domain to overcome landowner opposition.

So, Elefant says FERC now assumes if most landowners make a deal with the developers, the folks along the line have received fair compensation. “That’s very inaccurate,” says Elefant. “Many times people enter into the agreements because they feel like they have no choice, they’re not going to be able to fight a huge gas company, and they figure they might as well take what they can get.”

Elefant says the federal agency may seem intimidating to ordinary folks. But she stresses that even when it seems that way, it’s still worth trying to make your case the same way pipeline developers do.

Phillips says when it comes to determining if there is a need for the MVP, it’s still unclear if the agency will listen to the landowners and local communities, or just the power company. “The firm obviously wants to make money for its shareholders,” he says. “However, it has not been demonstrated that there is any public benefit, outside of the corporation itself, that there would be any public benefit.”

The pipeline developers argue the lines are justified to meet future public demand for gas in North Carolina and coastal Virginia.  FERC says it does balance impacts and demand when determining overall “public convenience and necessity.”

Rick Webb of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition is critical of FERC. He says that this federal agency with the power to allow pipelines as those proposed for the region is oriented not to take into account the concerns of people along the route.  This has also been revealed by the Appalachian Mountain Advocates.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Skylark Penna. May 24, 2016 at 1:54 am

Unmapped, unregulated maze of rural pipelines poses hidden risks

BY SUSAN PHILLIPS, NPR State Impact PA, Auust 4, 2016

Photo: Crews weld a pipeline from a wellhead in the Loyalsock State Forest.

The Wolf Administration says Pennsylvania will be getting tens of thousands of miles of new pipelines over the next couple of decades. Recently we reported on how poorly mapped some of these pipelines are.  Many of those unmapped pipelines are also unregulated. These are rural gathering lines, or pipelines that take the gas from the wellhead to a larger transmission line, or gas processing facility.

DEP Secretary John Quigley told StateImpact that he expects the industry to add 20-25,000 miles of gathering lines. Most of those lines will be in rural areas, the so-called “class one” lines, which no state, federal or local authorities oversee.

The Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration is looking at changing those rules. Linda Daugherty, a deputy associate administrator for field operations at PHMSA, told a room full of pipeline safety workers at a conference back in 2013 that the agency has been working on new rules, but the process was slow.

“What keeps me up at night? Gathering lines,” said Daugherty. ”This worries me. There are a whole lot of gathering lines out there in Pennsylvania that are not regulated.”

…. See the original article for much more …..


S. Thomas Bond May 24, 2016 at 5:01 pm

There is lots to say about the various gas wells and pipelines:

And with the hundreds of thousands of unplugged wells in Pennsylvania, perhaps half a million, some abandoned over 100 years ago, there is a short route to the surface. This previous neglect causes increasing problems with expanding the hydrocarbon industry. Higher pressures, more varied and powerful chemicals used in such large quantity, currently threaten to leave Pennsylvania in a condition like the background of the Mad Max science fiction movies.

Vacuous mouthpieces like Range Resources’ “Mouthy” Pizarella, Director of Corporate Communications, who has long misrepresented his educational achievement (see ) and the slick web presence of these corporations, sound like a gift from above to the public and politicians who get their news from the companies. In fact, just like a bull, they have only one thing in mind, but theirs is joining the country club set.

Bystanders get out of the way.


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