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Wyoming Gov. Mead Compels Pipeline Authority to Drop FERC Challenge

The administration of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead confirmed that it had asked the Wyoming Power Authority (WPA) to drop its challenge to a FERC order allowing Commission staff to act on some filings while it lacks a quorum.

WPA filed a request for rehearing [AD17-10] on March 6, arguing that a delegation order issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Feb. 3 was invalid because it exceeded the Commission's authority under the Natural Gas Act, the Federal Power Act and the Interstate Commerce Act.

But last Tuesday, WPA reversed course and withdrew the request for rehearing.

"Members of the governor's staff discussed the issue with WPA leadership and they decided it was best not to pursue the petition at this time," David Bush, Mead's communications director, told NGIon Thursday. "Resources are limited due to the recent budget reductions across state government. This decision does not preclude the WPA or other interested parties from pursuing action later on."

FERC has been without a quorum since last month's departure of Norman Bay, who had served as the Commission's chairman before announcing his resignation in January. President Trump has not yet nominated anyone to fill the Commission's vacant posts, but he did name Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur to serve as acting chairman. New FERC commissioners must be confirmed by the Senate.

A flurry of activity took place before Bay's last day on Feb. 3, but several major natural gas pipeline projects did not win last-minute approval. Environmental groups opposed to several pipeline projects have since used the lack of a quorum to try to stall their construction.  

The state of Wyoming has a royalty interest in natural gas and crude oil produced from state mineral leases in Wyoming, and receives a 48% share in the value of the royalty interest of the federal government in gas and oil produced from federal mineral leases in the state. Wyoming also receives severance and ad valorem taxes based on the production of gas and oil in the state.

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