New Hampshire Delegation Continues Push for Greater Public Input in Pipeline Permitting ProcessSeptember 24, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Today, New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation renewed their request to the Department of Energy Inspector General to address specific concerns about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) permitting process for interstate natural gas pipelines. The inquiry comes as the delegation continues to seek greater consideration of public comments by Granite State residents and communities potentially impacted by Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) natural gas pipeline.
The letter to the Inspector General, from Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Representative Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2) and Representative Frank Guinta (NH-1), calls for a response to detailed questions raised in a July letter regarding how FERC will meaningfully take into consideration the concerns of New Hampshire residents impacted by proposed infrastructure projects.
“New Hampshire residents and stakeholders remain concerned with how public input is considered during FERC’s permitting process for energy infrastructure projects,” the Delegation wrote. “…it is imperative that the public play a prominent role in the permitting process.”
The Delegation goes on to outline five specific questions on how the Inspector General’s review of FERC’s permitting process will take into account ways to improve communication with impacted residents and communities, take into account the comments and concerns of New Hampshire residents and ensure that any project is in the public interest.
The New Hampshire Delegation has called for more public meetings in communities that could be affected by the proposed pipeline and has expressed concerns about the ability of impacted residents to contribute to the federal review process of Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct (NED) natural gas pipeline.
The entire text of the letter is included below and is available here:
September 24, 2015
The Honorable Gregory H. Friedman
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20585
Dear Mr. Friedman:
Thank you for your timely response to our July 2015 letter regarding the interstate natural gas permitting process administered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). We also appreciate the conversations you had with our staffs about this very important issue, and are pleased that your Fiscal Year 2016 audit plan includes a review of FERC’s permitting process. However, the written response we received from your office did not address the five specific questions we asked in our recent letter.
New Hampshire residents and stakeholders remain concerned with how public input is considered during FERC’s permitting process for energy infrastructure projects. Since the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity issued by the Commission authorizes the construction of a project, preempting any state or local law, it is imperative that the public play a prominent role in the permitting process.
For this reason, we respectfully request a written response detailing how your review of FERC’s permitting process will incorporate the questions below previously posed by the New Hampshire congressional delegation:
- What actions is FERC taking to ensure that it fully complies with its statutory mandate to ensure all interstate natural gas infrastructure projects permitted by the Commission are consistent with public interest?
- Has FERC put in place proper tools and conducted sufficient outreach efforts to ensure that all affected stakeholders have accurate information and instruction on the ways in which they can participate in the interstate natural gas permitting process?
- Does FERC have in place performance measures and controls to provide reasonable assurance that it fully meets its obligations under Executive Order 13604 and other applicable statutes to promote the exchange of information among stakeholders?
- In what way does FERC ensure that the opportunities for public comment currently required in the interstate natural gas permitting process allow for all stakeholders to meaningfully express their concerns about the potential impacts (environmental and otherwise) of a proposed pipeline project?
- In what manner are comments from state and local officials and agencies considered during the permitting process?
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your timely response.
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