In an October 17, 2017, speech to the Energy Bar Association, Neil J. Chatterjee, current Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), stated he does not believe it is the agency’s responsibility or capability to question an applicant company’s claim that it needs to build a new pipeline. In an October 17 address before the Federal Energy Bar in Washington, DC, Chairman Chatterjee set forth as his most important priority the streamlining of FERC’s regulatory process.
“The FERC review process continues to get longer and longer due in large part to increased participation in the process by stakeholders, including numerous legal challenges. The Commission has historically prioritized precedent agreements in its analysis because those are clear, unequivocal statements of economic need by the market itself. The companies who are willing to enter into contracts to pay for transportation on the service on a pipeline have a much clearer understanding of the market need for the gas than we could develop through studies here in D.C.” (emphasis added)
In a response, Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) Executive Director Lew Freeman said. “FERC chairman Neil Chatterjee’s remarks on Oct. 17 to the Energy Bar Association portray a bias that is at decided odds with the even-handedness the public has the right to expect from a federal regulatory agency. His speech reflects a presumption that whatever an applicant company states to be the justification for a proposed project should be accepted by the agency because the applicant has — in Chairman Chatterjee’s own words — ‘a much clearer understanding of the market need for the gas than we could develop through studies here in D.C.’ Such blatantly voiced favoritism for an industry point of view is an affront to the regulatory integrity of the agency,”