In what promises to be the first in a series of rulings concerning the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over liquefied and compressed natural gas (LNG and CNG) projects and activities, FERC concluded recently that an LNG project in Pennsylvania is not subject to its jurisdiction under the Natural Gas Act (NGA). Whether a planned project is subject to FERC's jurisdiction can have a significant impact in terms of the timing and costs associated with the commercialization of an LNG, CNG or natural gas play. This recent order, issued on July 17, provides regulatory assurance to help streamline the commercialization of future projects.
The July 17 order responds to an April 1, 2014, filing by Gulf Oil Limited Partnership (Gulf) of a petition for declaratory order seeking a finding of nonjurisdictional status over Gulf's construction, ownership and operation of a natural gas liquefaction facility in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Gulf explained that it would receive natural gas from a gathering pipeline system located in the Marcellus Shale region.1 Once it liquefied the natural gas, Gulf explained it would then deliver the LNG by tanker truck to customers in Pennsylvania and the Northeast to be used to supply vehicular and high-horsepower engine fuel, and to serve local distribution company (LDC) peak-shaving facilities.
In granting the petition, the Commission agreed 1) the liquefaction services to be provided by Gulf do not implicate the agency's jurisdiction over the transportation of gas in interstate commerce by jurisdictional pipelines and 2) once sold by Gulf, the LNG would not be transported "at any point by pipeline facilities subject to [FERC]'s section 7 jurisdiction." The Commission also agreed with Gulf that the project was not "motivated by a desire to circumvent the Commission's section 7 jurisdiction."2 Further, assuaging Gulf's concerns, FERC found that section 7 of the NGA would not be implicated retroactively if LNG delivered to an LDC's peak-shaving facility were to displace gas supplies being transported on an interstate pipeline or be delivered by the LDC to an interconnected interstate pipeline.3
Although the result in the Gulf order was not unexpected, this ruling should help break the logjam of similar requests seeking jurisdictional rulings on planned LNG and CNG activities. Those requests include filings in recent months by Shell, Pivotal, Emera and Strom, all of which are still pending before FERC.4 Those requests propose different sources for natural gas supplies and different uses for the LNG and CNG from their respective proposed facilities. The numerous requests evidence the increased investor and industry activity and interest in small- and mid-scale liquefaction and compression projects to serve new LNG and CNG markets with relatively low-cost domestic natural gas supplies. For such projects to proceed, though, developers and financiers need certainty as to the scope of regulation that FERC will impose on these projects. FERC's Gulf Order and orders soon to follow for these other proposed projects will provide the additional regulatory clarity needed to allow these and future projects to take better advantage of the ongoing gas renaissance in the country.
 Petition for Declaratory Order Seeking Confirmation of the Non-Jurisdictional Status of a Liquefied Natural Gas Production Facility and Request for Expedited Action, Docket No. CP14-132, at 2 (April 1, 2014) (Gulf Petition).
 Gulf Order at 4 citing Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., 58 FERC ¶ 61,199 at 61,619 (1992) (describing circumstances and citing precedents in which the Commission found the liquefaction of gas would constitute "an integral part of the interstate flow" subject to the Commission's jurisdiction under section 7 of the NGA).
 Gulf Order at 4.
 FERC Docket Nos. RP14-52 (Shell), RP14-732 (Pivotal), CP14-114 (Emera) and CP14-121 (Strom).
Day Pitney Alert
Flossie Davis, Thomas Havens and Jennifer Galiette wrote an article, "NY Retail Electricity Order Vacated — For Now," for Law360. The article is about the recent decision by the Supreme Court for the County of Albany, New York, to vacate key directives of the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) in its "Order Resetting Retail Energy Markets and Establishing Further Process" issued on Feb. 23, also known as the PSC reset order.
Day Pitney Alert
Jennifer Galiette wrote an article, "State Strategy to Focus on Energy, Building Processes and Transportation," for The Connecticut Law Tribune. The article is about the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's (DEEP) announcement in May that it is beginning to develop a new statewide Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES) for Connecticut.
On July 12, Day Pitney partner Beth Barton, President of the New England Women in Energy and the Environment (NEWIEE), will welcome attendees at NEWIEE’s second annual panel in the "New England Women Shaping the Agenda in Energy and Environment" series. This year, this event will take place at Tufts University in the ASEAN Auditorium at The Fletcher School in Medford, Massachusetts. The panel, including Maryrose Sylvester, President and CEO of Current, Powered by GE; Cheryl Warren, National Grid USA Board Director and Innovation Strategist; and Cynthia Arcate, President and CEO of PowerOptions, will discuss the business behind getting to clean energy and environment. Professor Barbara Kates-Garnick of the Fletcher School and Center for International Environment and Resource Policy will be the moderator for the panel discussion. Registration is open for the event on NEWIEE’s website.
Joe Fagan was quoted in an article, "Pipeline Fights May Determine Scope Of Climate Reviews," in Law360. The article is about how an increase in legal challenges by environmental groups claiming that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must examine the climate change impacts of increased natural gas drilling before approving pipelines could help define the boundaries of a landmark 2004 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited the scope of federal environmental reviews to actions within an agency's authority.
Joe Fagan was quoted in an article, "NY Nuke Plant Subsidies Will Likely Face Legal Battle," in Law360. The article is about the challenges that nuclear plant subsidies offered by New York state in its newly announced clean energy standard will likely face due to a U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision.
Harold Blinderman was quoted in a Law360 article,"EPA's 40-Year Battle For Water Cooling Regs: A Cheat Sheet," which reviewed the status of litigation currently before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals challenging federal environmental regulations regarding the usage of cooling water by existing power plants and factories.
Hartford, Conn, June 9, 2016 - Day Pitney LLP is pleased to announce that David Doot has been selected as an Energy & Environmental Trailblazer by The National Law Journal, which profiles the top 50 business leaders in the energy and environmental space.
Jennifer Galiette has been elected Chair of the Energy, Public Utility and Communications Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association for a term of two years. In her new role, she will be in charge of planning Section meetings and organizing educational and professional events for the Section’s more than 100 members. Galiette also serves as a member of the Section’s Executive Committee. She has been involved with the organization for over seven years, and has previously served as Treasurer, Secretary and Vice Chair of the Section.