Citing the “complexity of the issues” and a desire to “ensure the best possible record,” FERC has prolonged the public comment period regarding a proposal to possibly revise its policies for reviewing and authorizing new interstate natural gas transportation facilities until late July.

In an order issued Wednesday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said public comments over a notice of inquiry (NOI) issued on April 19 would be extended for an additional 30 days through July 25 [PL18-1].

FERC issued the NOI to gain input on whether, and if so how, it should change its methods for determining whether a proposed natural gas project would meet the criteria for public convenience and necessity, which it uses to issue permits under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act. The Commission also asked whether, or how, it should consider other factors in its need determination, which iinclude precedent agreements, contracts for service, the potential use of eminent domain and an evaluation into a project’s environmental impacts.

Commissioners also want input on whether there were any specific changes to consider to improve the certification processes, including those for pre-filing, post-filing and post-order issuance. FERC adopted its current policies for pipeline certification under a policy statement issued in September 1999.

FERC said since the policy statement was issued 19 years ago, it has “seen significant changes in the energy markets, as well as in the production, use and consumption of natural gas. In the NOI, the Commission asked a series of questions to elicit information to develop a good record on which to decide any future action in this matter, and many of those questions identify complex issues.

“The Commission believes our work on this matter will benefit from a robust record and as much relevant information and thoughtful input as possible. Indeed, it is important that we base any next steps on the best available information, and we encourage input from stakeholders across the energy spectrum.”

Last month, FERC was among 12 federal agencies that agreed to follow expedited permitting procedures, with timetables designed to complete the reviews within two years.