Dear Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce commends you for swiftly launching a bipartisan inquiry into the recent actions at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) to revise its policy statements relating to the agency’s consideration of requests to permit, construct, and operate interstate natural gas pipelines and other natural gas infrastructure projects. FERC has such authorities pursuant to the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”), which provided FERC’s predecessor, the Federal Power Commission, the ability to take control of interstate natural gas transmission, and the Natural Gas Policy Act (“NGPA”), which sought to enhance the domestic availability of predictable and affordable natural gas resources. Unfortunately, FERC’s latest actions undermine the intent of these acts, and indeed are inconsistent with statutory requirements, while unnecessarily constraining the ability to construct needed new natural gas infrastructure. Accordingly, the Chamber welcomes the Committee’s inquiry into this important matter.
As we noted in our comments submitted to FERC in response to its Notice of Inquiry preceding the issuance of the Certificate Statement, FERC – consistent with Congress’s direction to the agency – should aim to make pipeline certification more reliable and predictable, as opposed to more difficult. In fact, it is Congress who has decided that “the business of transporting and selling natural gas for ultimate distribution to the public is affected with a public interest,” and the U.S. Supreme Court which has held that the purpose of the NGA is to “encourage the orderly development of plentiful supplies of . . . natural gas at reasonable prices.”