FERC Process Review Comment Guide (PL18-1-000)
Background: FERC is taking public input on their 1999 Natural Gas Policy Statement to address the increasingly contentious question of how the agency determines the need for fracked gas pipelines. FERC is known as a rubber stamp agency for pipeline proposals having only denied 2 pipeline proposals out of hundreds in the last 30 years. Many pipeline companies are using this opportunity to comment on FERC’s process saying it should be less time consuming and costly for applicants, so we must urge FERC to reform its pipeline review process to ensure that—above all else—the public interest is protected.
Who: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the federal agency responsible for that regulating the transmission and wholesale sale of electricity and fracked gas in interstate commerce and regulates the transportation of oil by pipeline in interstate commerce. FERC also reviews proposals to build interstate natural gas pipelines, natural gas storage projects, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, in addition to licensing non-federal hydropower projects. FERC is composed of five commissioners who are nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. They are the lead federal agency permitting the Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG export terminal.
What: FERC seeks information and stakeholder perspectives to help the Commission explore whether, and if so how, it should revise its approach on the certification of new fracked gas transportation facilities to determine whether a proposed fracked gas project is or will be required by the present or future public convenience and necessity, as that standard is established in section 7 of the Natural Gas Act.
Specifically, the Commission seeks input on whether, and if so how, they should adjust:
(1) its methodology for determining whether there is a need for a proposed project, including the Commission’s consideration of precedent agreements and contracts for service as evidence of such need;
(2) its consideration of the potential exercise of eminent domain and of landowner interests related to a proposed project;
(3) its evaluation of the environmental impact of a proposed project; and
(4) input on whether there are specific changes the Commission could consider implementing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its certificate processes including pre-filing, post-filing, and post-order issuance.
When: Comments on NOI (PL18-1) are due by June 18, 2018
Our goal: We want to send FERC hundreds of comments about how they need to change their process. We need to emphasize that impacts to our climate and communities need to be a top priority in evaluating the “need” for a project. One of the key ways FERC decides to issue permits is based on “public need”. The main way they measure that right now is by ensuring the pipeline company has contracts to sell their gas. But that doesn't serve a public need or a public benefit and we want to make sure FERC knows that. We also want them to consider climate change as part of their public need/benefit and environmental analysis which they currently don’t do.
Tips for Writing Comments:
- You don’t need to be an expert, it’s important that FERC hears from you!
- Choose a few of the talking points below to expand on in your comments. Remember, you are commenting on FERC’s process and criteria for permitting pipelines, not just about why you don’t like the Jordan Cove project.
- Write your comments in a word or google document first. Then use the instructions below to submit your comment.
- Check out examples here and here. Your comments do not need to be this detailed.
1) Assessing Project Need and Public interest
-The Natural Gas Act requires FERC to determine whether a pipeline project is in the public interest. The key determinant in deciding whether a project is in the public interest is whether the project is needed to support domestic energy demands.
-Feeding export demand does not serve a public need and is not in the public interest.
-FERC should consider how gas export impacts domestic pricing. If domestic gas prices increase as a result of export the project cannot be considered a public need.
-FERC should use an “all relevant factors” approach in assessing public need and benefit. Need should not be simply established by “precedent agreements” or contracts between a pipeline developers and shippers.
-Public interest should be weighed by whether or not impacted communities stand to net benefit-NOT whether or not the company stands to benefit.
-If job creation is used as a metric in assessing public interest, FERC must also assess jobs that would be lost during construction and into the foreseeable future due to environmental impacts.
- Health and Safety Hazards to communities should be taken into account when making public interest determinations.
2) Exercise of Eminent Domain and landowner Interests
-Impacts to landowners should weigh heavily in the public interest determination due to the threat of eminent domain and financial loss.
-Number of landowner property easements signed should not be used as of a metric of support, as landowners may feel undue financial pressure to signed.
3) Assessing Environmental Impact
-FERC must consider climate change from burning fossil fuels among other environmental impacts the consider in their Environmental Impact Statement. FERC should consider upstream and downstream Greenhouse Gas emissions and the social cost of carbon.
-FERC should use other tools that are already widely used in measuring the significance of climate related impacts such as carbon budgets and an EPA greenhouse gas equivalency calculator.
-Climate and environmental impacts and costs should be weighed as part of the needs determination in addition to the environmental impacts determination.
4) How can FERC improve efficiency and effectiveness in its process?
-FERC’s efficiency measures must not interfere with State’s rights to deny pipelines if they fail to meet environmental standards under the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification and Coastal Zone Management Act. FERC should not approve a project before states have conducted their review.
-Ensure meaningful opportunities for public participation. FERC should prioritize making commenting more accessible by extending comment periods to at least 90 days and requiring themselves to hold public hearings in all communities impacted by the applicant’s proposal.
-FERC should not shorten review periods as stakeholders need significant amounts of time to review impacts statements and reports to prepare their comments.
How to Comment:
1. Write your comments in a word or google doc. Make sure to save your comments on the computer you are using. No more than 6,000 Words.
3. If you already have an account with FERC, login at https://ferconline.ferc.gov/LogIn.aspx . If you don't already have an account, Go to E-register at https://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/eregistration.asp
4. Once you have registered for an account and logged in, you will then come to this screen. Click “eFiling”.
5. On the next page “Filing Type” choose “General” and then “Comment” on rulemaking. Then click “Next”.
6. Enter docket number PL18-1-000. Click “Search”. Click on the blue cross to select the docket. Click “Next”.
7. On this page, click browse and find the file with your comment on your computer. Here’s a list of all file formats FERC accepts. In the “description” space write a brief description of your submission. For example, “Comments on docket #PL18-1-000 submitted by _______ on ____.” Click “Upload”. Then click “Next”.
8. Click “As an Individual”. If you are filing on behalf of an organization (that has filed with FERC before) search with the first word of your organization’s name and click the blue cross. Click next.
9. Enter your email address under contact email. Click “Add as signer”. Click next.
10. Next you will be on the submission description page. Click “Next”.
11. Finally, you will see the summary page. Click “Submit”. Congrats you’re done!