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White House 'Signs Off' On Hebert Renomination

White House 'Signs Off' On Hebert Renomination

The White House has given the green-light to the renomination of Commissioner Curt Hebert Jr. for a full five-year term at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"It's my understanding that they've signed off on my nomination," Hebert told NGI. He noted Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), whom he calls a "very good friend," sent a letter to the White House in January seeking his renomination. He's also had the support of Senate Energy Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID).

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is expected to receive the renomination of Hebert when Congress returns from recess in mid-April, at which time it will schedule a confirmation hearing. His renomination will then be sent to the Senate for approval.

Hebert, a former Mississippi state legislator and regulator, was first named commissioner in November 1997 to fill the remainder of the term left vacant by former Commissioner Donald Santa. During this short partial term, which expires June 30th, Hebert has earned a reputation as probably the most outspoken member of FERC.

One of the gas issues he will continue to press during his second term is the need for preliminary determinations (PDs) for pipeline projects, he said. "The only way to deal with that appropriately, I believe, is to do what the Commission has done over the past 10 years, and that is to look at a PD on project 'need'...and then decide the environmental issues at a later date. We need to go ahead and send some early signals to the financial community."

He believes the FERC majority set a dangerous precedent recently when it bypassed PDs in four Northeast-bound projects. "When the Commission first started looking behind contracts and talking about whether or not pipes were full on the day the construction was completed, I knew we were going in the wrong direction."

Hebert said he advocates increased pipeline construction even as the Commission is "moving away from putting more pipes in the ground...We need to make available additional capacity for those areas that require it."

Susan Parker

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