Staff Presentation: February 18, 2021
Docket No. PL18-1-000
Items C-1: News Release | NOI

Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners.

Item C-1 is a draft Notice of Inquiry (or NOI) that seeks new information and additional stakeholder perspectives to help the Commission explore how it should revise its approach under its currently effective policy statement, issued in 1999, on the certification of new natural gas transportation facilities. This policy statement guides the Commission in determining whether a proposed natural gas project is or will be required by the public convenience and necessity, as that standard is established in section 7 of the Natural Gas Act.

In April of 2018, the Commission issued an NOI seeking information and stakeholder perspectives to help the Commission explore whether, and if so how, it should revise its 1999 policy statement. That 2018 NOI included an extensive background section discussing the creation of the policy statement, how the Commission’s evaluations under the policy statement had evolved, and how changed circumstances since 1999 invited review of the policy statement.

In response to the 2018 NOI, the Commission received more than 3,000 comments from diverse stakeholders. The Commission has, to date, not taken any further action in this proceeding.

C-1 explains that there have been a range of changes since the Commission issued the 2018 NOI, including statutory and regulatory changes, the issuance of new Executive Orders, and increased stakeholder interest in certain topics. Accordingly, the Commission is providing an opportunity for stakeholders to refresh the record and provide updated information and additional viewpoints to help the Commission move forward in a reasoned manner.

The 2018 NOI identified four general areas of examination that remain relevant to the Commission’s considerations: (1) the reliance on precedent agreements to demonstrate need for a proposed project; (2) the potential exercise of eminent domain and landowner interests; (3) the Commission’s evaluation of alternatives and environmental effects under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Natural Gas Act; and (4) the efficiency and effectiveness of the Commission’s certificate processes. In C-1, the Commission seeks comments on several new questions in some of these areas that modify or add to the 2018 NOI. For example, C-1 includes new questions on how the Commission should analyze and consider the impacts of a proposed project’s greenhouse gas emissions and on how the Commission and applicants could mitigate a proposed project’s impacts on climate change.

Additionally, C-1 identifies and poses new questions on a fifth broad issue area of examination: the consideration of effects on environmental justice communities. The term “environmental justice communities” encompasses (i) populations of color; (ii) communities of color; (iii) Native communities; and (iv) and low-income rural and urban communities, who are exposed to a disproportionate burden of the negative human health and environmental impacts of pollution or other environmental hazards. The NOI solicits comments on how the Commission identifies and addresses effects on these environmental justice communities and on ways in which the Commission may mitigate those effects.

C-1 emphasizes that the Commission seeks to build upon the existing record and will consider the previously submitted comments in this proceeding. The NOI strongly urges stakeholders to not resubmit previously filed comments, which remain in the record. Additionally, the NOI requests that stakeholders submit new or modified comments that clearly explain why the Commission should or should not take a specific course of action, and, more importantly, provide precise recommendations for how the Commission could implement such changes.

Thank you. This concludes the presentation for C-1. We are happy to answer any questions.

This page was last updated on February 18, 2021