On June 30, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”), sitting en banc, upset FERC’s long-used practice of granting itself more time to consider requests for rehearing of its orders by issuing “tolling orders.” FERC’s prior use of tolling orders prevented parties from seeking judicial review of a Commission order, but did not stay the effect of that order. The crux of the court’s decision is that the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”) gives FERC four express options to address a request for rehearing, all of which must be taken within thirty days, but deciding only to grant itself more time is not one of those options. The decision marks a sea change in FERC procedure, and raises a host of questions for pending and future proceedings under both the NGA and its companion statute, the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).
On July 2, 2020, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioner Richard Glick issued a joint statement requesting that Congress pass legislation “providing FERC with a reasonable amount of additional time to act on rehearing requests involving orders under both the Natural Gas Act and the Federal Power Act.” The statement goes on to say that “any such legislation should make clear that, while rehearing requests are pending, the Commission should be prohibited from issuing a notice to proceed with construction and no entity should be able to begin eminent domain proceedings involving the projects addressed in the orders subject to those rehearing requests.”
Continue Reading In Significant Order on FERC Procedure, En Banc D.C. Circuit Rejects FERC’s Use of Tolling Orders under the Natural Gas Act, Raising Significant Implementation Questions for All Pending and Future Proceedings