On January 29, 2019, over 180 environmental organizations (“Environmental Groups”) wrote a letter to members of Congress requesting a congressional hearing into the approval process for interstate gas pipelines. The Environmental Groups argue that FERC approves nearly all proposed pipelines, abuses its eminent domain authority, and relies on erroneous data when evaluating whether to allow pipeline companies to begin construction.
The Environmental Groups detail a litany of alleged misuses of FERC’s Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) authority in their request for a congressional hearing. The Environmental Groups claim that FERC has a near 100 percent approval rate for proposed pipeline projects because employees and Commissioners have conflicts of interest. In addition, the Environmental Groups contend that FERC strips landowners of their due process rights before eminent domain is used to seize their property. Further, the Environmental Groups argue that FERC uses the right of eminent domain prematurely before construction of pipelines begin, which permits the taking of private property, even if the pipeline is not built. The Environmental Groups also argue that FERC still approves pipelines when there are facts or data demonstrating that the pipelines are not needed.
Although the Environmental Groups did not specify a date or timeline for the hearing, they do urge congressional leaders to “take swift affirmative action” to amend the NGA so as to protect the public interest and to inform Congress on how FERC’s “abuse of power is harming communities and our environment.” In addition, they ask for Congress to hold hearings with members of affected communities as well as with other third parties to address this issue.
The Environmental Groups’ request can be found here.