The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today modified its June 2020 rule prohibiting construction of an approved natural gas project until the Commission acts on requests for rehearing.
In order to better protect landowner rights, Order No. 871 precluded construction while the Commission considers requests for rehearing. Today’s order clarifies that the prohibition on construction applies until the earlier of either the date that a qualifying rehearing request is no longer pending before the Commission or ninety (90) days following the date that a qualifying request for rehearing may be deemed denied by operation of law. Additionally, in response to comments, the Commission also limits the rule to those cases where a request for rehearing raises issues reflecting opposition to project construction, operation or need.
FERC also announced that it will adopt a general policy of staying its certificate orders under section 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act during the rehearing period and pending Commission resolution of any timely requests for rehearing filed by landowners, subject to the same 90-day time limitation discussed above or a showing by the pipeline developer that the stay should be lifted. The Commission finds that this compromise addresses the competing interests at stake, including those of stakeholders that seek to challenge the Commission's ultimate decision before irreparable harm may occur, as well as the project developer's interest in proceeding with construction when it has obtained all necessary permits.
“With this order, FERC is working to fulfill its commitment to protect landowners, communities, and the environment while also ensuring that the construction of needed pipelines is not unduly delayed,” FERC Chairman Richard Glick said. “Today’s order strikes a compromise that both protects the interests of the parties affected by a new pipeline while also providing developers with the certainty needed to invest in energy infrastructure.”