Many pipelines, however, are still waiting to be reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC must review all interstate natural gas pipelines, and it has been immobilized for six months. The Commission is supposed to have five members, but it was down to three when President Trump was sworn into office. Another Commissioner resigned in February leaving just two on the job, and three are needed for the Commission to take any major formal action. Then one of the two remaining Commissioners quit, leaving a lonely one-woman panel for Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur.
With FERC unable to act, pipeline applications gathered dust and many project sponsors reportedly threatened to cancel their projects. Finally, in May Pres. Trump nominated Rob Powelson, who was a regulator on a similar state-level commission in Pennsylvania, and Neil Catterjee, who was a staff member for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Both are considered to be knowledgeable about FERC’s role and supporters of thoughtful development. The nominations were applauded by oil-industry groups that were anxious to see infrastructure approvals moving again.
In a rare move, both men were confirmed by the Senate by unanimous consent, even while some extreme environmental groups cried that they would feed a “fracking frenzy” by allowing new pipelines to be built. No doubt the approvals were in part due to some dealmaking in the Senate. Pres. Trump has also nominated Richard Glick, a lawyer for the Democrats on the Senate Energy Committee, and Kevin McIntyre, a noted energy lawyer located in Washington, D.C. These nominations are expected to move along quickly as well and return to FERC to full strength soon.
If your company sees an opportunity in our region’s improving infrastructure and would like to begin or expand exploration and production in Ohio, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia, contact the experts at Cimmaron Land.