March 01, 2016

FERC Pipeline Siting Program Deals with Legal Challenges

Michael R. Pincus

The United States is currently experiencing an unprecedented growth in natural gas production and infrastructure development. The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA)—the nation’s statistical and analytical agency for tracking the production, flow, and use of energy—estimates total domestic dry natural gas production was approximately 31.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2014, up from 23.4 Tcf in 2005, before the shale gas revolution. The prolific production in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions has led this growth. The surge in production has driven interstate natural gas pipeline companies to request authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)—which has jurisdiction over the siting, construction, and operation of interstate natural gas pipelines pursuant to the Natural Gas Act (NGA)—to construct thousands of miles of pipelines. Between 2009 and 2015, FERC authorized approximately 4,000 miles of pipeline projects according to EIA and FERC estimates.

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