The Natural Gas Supply Association has joined with forces urging Congress to direct FERC to revise its compliance procedures and set up an office of compliance assistance to guide market participants in compliance procedures.

The letter from the large producers’ group to U.S. House and Senate energy committees urged measures “facilitating natural gas infrastructure, LNG [liquefied natural gas] exports and straightforward market rules that foster compliance.”

While NGSA support for LNG exports and delivery infrastructure is not new, the call for changes in compliance procedures at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) appears to support new measures under consideration by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.

At a recent hearing, the Energy and Power Subcommittee took testimony on draft legislation that, among other things, would limit communication during an ongoing investigation of alleged wrongdoing between the FERC investigatory staff and the commissioners who will ultimately be the judges in the case. Any communication would be part of the formal record. The draft also would allow the subjects of the investigation to have the same access to the regular Commission staff and commissioners that the investigating staff does (see Daily GPI, June 8).

The proposed legislation also would set up an independent office of compliance assistance to ensure “market integrity and support for the development of responsible market behavior.” The office would ensure “the application of Commission rules and orders in a manner that ensures markets are not impaired and consumers are not damaged by inconsistent application...” It “would provide entities regulated by the Commission the opportunity to obtain timely, including real-time, compliance guidance..,” the subcommittee draft said.

The compliance office would report to the Commission and to Congress.

Testifying at the subcommittee hearing earlier this month against setting up an independent office of compliance, J. Arnold Quinn, director of FERC’s Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, said it “could create duplicative proceedings for consumers and regulated entities. An Office of Compliance Assistance within the Commission that is meant to be independent from the rest of the Commission’s staff could undermine the current coordination among Commission Offices.”

NGSA CEO Dena Wiggins supported the compliance office proposal and “rules that facilitate market participant compliance and increased transparency in the compliance process. A healthy natural gas market requires long-term regulatory certainty. Equally important as the rules themselves, market participants must have a clear understanding of the rules governing natural gas market participation,” she said in the group’s letter to the legislators.