FERC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have signed a memorandum of agreement promoting a more streamlined regulatory process through early coordination of efforts to identify the purpose, needs and alternatives for regulated natural gas projects.
The interagency agreement, which took effect June 30, acknowledges the separate roles that the two agencies have under their federal statutes, and provides that the FERC certification and the Corps' permit processes will begin at the outset of a natural gas project. The pact further clarifies that the Corps will defer, to the maximum extent allowable by law, to the project purpose, need and alternatives that FERC determines to be appropriate. It also spells out a streamlined dispute resolution process for those times when the two agencies cannot agree that a project proposal complies with the agencies' rules.
FERC is responsible for authorizing the construction and operation of interstate natural gas pipelines, storage facilities and liquefied natural gas import terminals under the Natural Gas Act and is the lead agency for complying with the National Environmental Policy Act. The Corps is charged with protecting the waters of the United States, including wetlands, under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and the Clean Water Act, and administers permits to projects that comply with those laws.
"This agreement will provide greater regulatory certainty. Necessary decisions will proceed more smoothly, as the agreement provides for FERC to work early with the Corps to study practical alternatives, and for the Corps to defer to the Commission's determination of purpose and need," said FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher.
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