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New FERC Head Hints At Gas Pipeline Approval Changes

The new chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Kevin McIntyre, has hinted at the possibility of making changes to the current gas pipeline approval procedure that the watchdog follows.

While McIntyre made a point of saying "Without prejudging anything and without intending to forecast a policy direction, he went on to say that it's a matter we believe of good governance to take a fresh look at this area and to give all stakeholders and the public an opportunity to weigh in on" the possible need for such changes.

The chairman was speaking at the first open meeting of the FERC after he took office earlier this month and said he would commission a review of the current process. The form of the review is yet to be decided on, but McIntyre noted that it will be as transparent and thorough as possible.

The review initiative was part of McIntyre pledge during his Senate confirmation hearings as he said he would seek to identify any areas ripe for improvement. The current gas pipeline approval regime has been in place since 1999.

Environmental groups praised the chairman’s promise: protests at the watchdog have become frequent in recent years, with environmentalists arguing that not all pipeline projects that received the green light from the regulator actually served the public interests.

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Now, these groups are hoping that the new chairman will introduce changes that would right what they believe is a wrong, even though McIntyre told media after the open meeting that his statement concerning the policy review "should not be read as a complaint with our current policy."

Separately, the FERC announced it will be tightening mandatory reporting requirements about cybersecurity incidents. Until now, the FERC’s critical infrastructure protection reliability standard only covered occurrences that compromise or disrupt at least one reliability task, Platts reports, while now the standard will be broadened to include incidents that attempt to compromise the grid.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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