On April 28, 2020, the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform released preliminary investigative findings showing that the natural gas pipeline approval process used by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unjustly tramples on the rights of private landowners.
The Subcommittee released a video report outlining its preliminary findings and interviewing landowners Richard Averitt and Maury Johnson, who have battled FERC and pipeline companies to protect their land, and Carolyn Elefant, a lawyer and expert in FERC issues.
In a press release, Subcommittee Chairman Jamie Raskin said, “The deck is totally stacked against landowners who want to defend their family’s land against takeover by private natural gas companies It’s not a fair process. FERC habitually delays its administrative duties to respond to landowner requests so long that those landowners have no opportunity to have their voices heard. By the time they have the chance to speak up, their land has already been invaded and in some cases destroyed.”
The press release states, “The Subcommittee’s investigation found that in the last twelve years, FERC issued a tolling order to every single landowner who requested a rehearing. In every single case, FERC eventually denied the request. On average, 212 days—about seven months—passed between the time a landowner made a request for rehearing and when FERC ultimately denied it. While those cases are tolled, the eminent domain cases can continue, landowners can lose their property rights, and pipeline companies can destroy their land.”