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FERC Approves Pipeline Projects and Delegates Authority Prior to Loss of Quorum

On February 2 and 3, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Energy Transfer Partners, LP’s $4.2 billion “Rover” pipeline project, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC’s $3 billion “Atlantic Sunrise” pipeline expansion, and National Fuel Gas Company’s $455 million “Northern Access” pipeline project. The three pipeline projects will significantly enhance the ability of operators to move natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales into more favorable markets. Once constructed, the Rover project will transport up to 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus and Utica shales to Ohio, Michigan, and Canada. The Atlantic Sunrise expansion will transport an additional 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus shale to the southeastern United States. National Fuel’s Northern Access project will connect the Marcellus to Buffalo, New York and other interstate pipelines that will further transport the natural gas throughout New England and Canada.

The approvals came immediately prior to Commissioner Norman C. Bay’s February 3 departure from FERC, which leaves the Commission without a necessary quorum to take major actions until President Donald J. Trump nominates, and the United States Senate confirms, at least one new commissioner. In anticipation of the indefinite halt to the Commission’s ability to conduct meetings, the commissioners delegated duties, primarily concerning rate filings, to FERC staffers.