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FERC

In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission failed properly quantify greenhouse gas emissions linked to a pipeline expansion project in the southeastern U.S.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was originally an agency created to coordinate hydroelectric projects.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity, and regulates natural gas and hydropower projects. It also oversees wholesale electricity markets, to insure a reliable and affordable power grid.

Its predecessor, the Federal Power Commission (FPC), was created in 1920 to coordinate federal hydroelectric projects. Over the years, the FPC’s mandate grew to include oversight of electricity and natural gas. In response to the energy crisis, Congress reorganized the FPC as FERC, with a mandate to increase access to energy.

FERC is led by a five-member commission, comprised of up to five commissioners appointed by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Commissioners serve five-year terms, and have an equal vote on regulatory matters.

FERC has come under criticism for its approval process for natural gas pipelines

Critics have long called FERC a “rubber stamp” for the pipeline industry because it approves virtually every pipeline application that comes before it. Claims of overbuilding in the pipeline industry were fueled in November when a report for the Natural Resources Defense Council said that over the last 20 years, FERC has approved more than twice as much natural gas pipeline capacity than gas consumed in 2016.

FERC has also weighed in on controversial plans to bail out coal and nuclear plants from financial insolvency. The commission voted unanimously to terminate a Department of Energy proposal to guarantee profits for power plants that can store 90 days of fuel on-site. Only coal and nuclear plants can do that.

Latest stories


This February 2018 photo shows the most recent proposed route for the PennEast pipeline through Albertine Anthony's farm in Palmerton, Pennsylvania. The route cuts through a triangle of unfarmed wetland that is the source of Anthony's home water supply.
Updated: September 13, 2018 | 4:36 pm

FERC urged to block tree-cutting before final decisions on PennEast pipeline

The Delaware River Basin Commission said it thinks the company might want to start clearing trees before its project gets all necessary approvals. In part, the commission is worried about problems that could occur if the pipeline never gets built.

By Jon Hurdle

The proposed PennEast pipeline would pass through the fields of the Christman farm, seen from the intersection of Station Street and Pohopoco Drive in Lehighton.
Updated: August 14, 2018 | 9:40 am

FERC sued over PennEast approval after denying rehearing requests

Environmental groups say regulator failed to consider climate impacts and need for pipeline
By Jon Hurdle

Trees cut on a Susquehanna County property in March 2016 to make way for the proposed Constitution Pipeline. The company has said it will fight a FERC order upholding New York State's denial of a permit for the project.

A company cut trees for a pipeline that hasn’t been approved. The landowners just filed for compensation

The Constitution Pipeline is not built two years after crews cut more than 500 trees on northeast Pennsylvania property. The company says it is trying to get approval and still plans to build the line.

By Jon Hurdle

A sign warns drivers of natural gas pipeline construction ahead.

Federal appeals court dismisses pipeline case that charged FERC with bias

Ruling: Agency's pipeline approvals not linked to its funding
By Susan Phillips

In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission failed properly quantify greenhouse gas emissions linked to a pipeline expansion project in the southeastern U.S.

FERC's headquarters in Washington, DC. The agency said it will review its longstanding policy on certification of natural gas pipelines.

A sign on Stagecoach Road in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, shows local opposition to the PennEast pipeline. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

From the porch of her Palmerton farmhouse, Albertine Anthony looks out on the rolling hills of lower Carbon County. She believes the PennEast pipeline's proposed route through her 124-acre farm threatens her water supply. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

The FERC building in Washington D.C.

Protesters blocked pipeline construction equipment on the property of The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, an order of Catholic nuns, in Lancaster County in October. On Friday, the nuns asked an appeals court to allow them to make their religious objections to the pipeline in a lower court.
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