On December 21, 2017, FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre unexpectedly announced at his first Commission meeting that FERC will conduct a review of its 1999 Policy Statement on Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Facilities (“1999 Policy Statement”).  In doing so, Chairman McIntyre recognized that “[m]uch has changed in the energy world since 1999, and it is incumbent upon [the Commission] to take another look at the way in which we assess the value and viability of our pipeline applications.”  According to multiple reports, Chairman McIntyre clarified that he does not believe that the review will affect current pending pipeline applications.  Furthermore, Chairman McIntyre indicated that the review of the 1999 Policy Statement, which governs how FERC evaluates proposals for certificating new gas pipeline construction, will take place sometime in 2018. 

FERC’s remaining four commissioners agreed with Chairman McIntyre on the importance of reviewing the 1999 Policy Statement.  Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur and Commissioner Richard Glick each highlighted several issues they hoped the review would address.  Of note, both commissioners stated that the review should analyze: (1) how FERC conducts its environmental review of a proposed gas pipeline project; and (2) the development of a broader range of factors for FERC to use when determining the economic needs of gas pipeline proposals.  Commissioner LaFleur stated in particular that the environmental impact analysis is interrelated to determining whether the proposed gas pipeline project is needed.  Commissioner Glick also recommended that the review should consider whether gas pipeline certifications ought to be issued by the Commission subject to the submission of additional information and ongoing consultation.

In addition, Commissioner Neil Chatterjee stated that the review should identify opportunities for “potential improvements and greater efficiencies” as well as to recognize where the current policies are appropriate and should continue.  Finally, Commissioner Robert Powelson noted that while the Commission’s review is probably long overdue, the Commission’s job in the interim will be to continue to “move forward with getting this infrastructure built in a timely manner, make sure it’s done safely, [and] make sure it adheres to state and federal environmental [requirements].”

In his closing remarks at the monthly Commission meeting, Chairman McIntyre confirmed that the Commission is still considering what format it will utilize for the review process.  Similarly, Chairman McIntyre did not indicate the precise scope or the timeline involved for the review.

Access to the closing remarks made by Chairman McIntyre, and each of the remaining commissioners regarding review of the 1999 Policy Statement, can be found here.