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People’s Dossier: FERC’s Abuses of Power and Law


(Download Printable copy of “People’s Dossier of FERC Abuses: Updated 2019 – attachments coming soon)

Communities across America are being abused by the use and misuse of powers granted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) pursuant to the Natural Gas Act. And so communities from across the nation are banding together to demand that Congress:

  • Hold congressional hearings to investigate and learn about the many ways communities are being harmed by FERC’s implementation of the Natural Gas Act and the agency’s failure to meet the legal mandates of the National Environmental Policy Act; and
  • Take swift affirmative action to reform the Natural Gas Act so as to better protect communities including eliminating the threats associated with natural gas infrastructure

With the Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977 (S.826) Congress reorganized the Department of Energy and created FERC, an independent executive agency. During Senate hearings on the bill, a rightfully skeptical Senator William V. Roth of Delaware had this to say about the critical role that an equitable energy policy plays in our society:

If there is a single area where it is necessary for the American people to believe implicitly in the fairness and honesty of Government, where there can be no doubts whatsoever, it is in the field of energy…A sweetheart relationship between those who regulate and those who are regulated will strain the credibility of the most trusting citizens.

Unfortunately, after four decades of FERC’s unaccountable and irresponsible approach to energy development, the trust of the American people has been strained beyond the breaking point.  As it currently stands, the language of the Natural Gas Act is being misused by FERC to strip people of their legal and constitutional rights; to undermine the legal authority of states and of other federal agencies; to prevent fair public participation in the pipeline review process; to ignore the mandates of the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act; to take from residents and citizens their private property rights; to disregard the climate changing ramifications of its actions; to take from communities the protection of public parks, forests and conserved lands that they have invested heavily in protecting; to take jobs and destroy small businesses; to inflict on our communities health, safety and environmental harms … all for the benefit of the pipeline industry seeking to advance its own corporate profits and business edge over its competitors.

Regulators and elected officials are beginning to take notice. In response to FERC’s call for comments regarding its pipeline review process in 2018, the Commission received thousands of public comments critiquing its abusive and illegal practices, including a letter signed by seven state Attorneys General outlining FERC’s regular and extensive violations of federal law. Even members of the Commission have started to speak out about the agency’s violations of the law in dissenting orders.

The time has now come for Congress to investigate.

As this Dossier demonstrates, Congressional hearings are essential to inform Congress of the abuses of power and law that FERC is inflicting.  Congressional hearings will also help identify smart and meaningful reforms that can accomplish the nation’s energy goals without sacrificing people, communities, the law, or the environment.   

Congressional Hearings have been requested by over 200 organizations representing communities across the nation.  It is time for Congress to grant this request.