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

“It’s my understanding that they’ve signed off on mynomination,” Hebert told NGI. He noted Senate Majority Leader TrentLott (R-MS), whom he calls a “very good friend,” sent a letter tothe White House in January seeking his renomination. He’s also hadthe support of Senate Energy Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) andSen. Larry Craig (R-ID).

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is expected toreceive the renomination of Hebert when Congress returns fromrecess in mid-April, at which time it will schedule a confirmationhearing. His renomination will then be sent to the Senate forapproval.

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

One of the gas issues he will continue to press during hissecond term is the need for preliminary determinations (PDs) forpipeline projects, he said. “The only way to deal with thatappropriately, I believe, is to do what the Commission has doneover 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 financialcommunity.”

He believes the FERC majority set a dangerous precedent recentlywhen it bypassed PDs in four Northeast-bound projects. “When theCommission first started looking behind contracts and talking aboutwhether or not pipes were full on the day the construction wascompleted, I knew we were going in the wrong direction.”

Hebert said he advocates increased pipeline construction even asthe Commission is “moving away from putting more pipes in theground…We need to make available additional capacity for thoseareas that require it.”

Susan Parker

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