U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner introduced legislation on June 7 to strengthen the public’s ability to evaluate the impacts of natural gas pipelines being considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith will introduce similar legislation in the House.
S. 1314 makes it easier for the public to offer input and clarify the circumstances under which eminent domain should and should not be used. Among other guidelines, the bill requires public comment meetings to be held in every locality through which a pipeline would pass, at every stage of the review process, in order to minimize situations where individuals are forced to commute long distances with very little time to comment. While Congress does not decide on the merits of individual gas pipeline projects, it provides the legal authority under which FERC is tasked with evaluating the benefits and drawbacks to energy infrastructure proposals. Text of the legislation is available at this writing, but a press release from Sen. Warner’s office describes the major features of the bill.
Sen. Warner is also a co-sponsor of another bill aimed at providing greater public involvement in the FERC process. An article on that bill, S. 1240 (a House companion measure is H.R. 2656), that appeared in last week’s ABRA Update.