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Pallone & Cantwell Request Expanded FERC Investigation of Rover Pipeline & Its Parent Company

Jul 27, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) sent a letter today to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting an expanded investigation, and additional information, in light of troubling reports about Rover Pipeline LLC and its parent company, Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) (collectively “Rover”).  The request for an expanded investigation of ETP follows reports of seven industrial spills, including one that spewed over five million gallons of drilling fluid onto pristine wetland, and permit violationsconnected to the construction of Rover, as well as reports about spills on an ETP pipeline project in Pennsylvania. Three states have initiated actions against the Rover pipeline, including actions taken this week by Pennsylvania.

FERC recently issued a notice of alleged violations that preliminarily determined Rover violated the Natural Gas Act (NGA) by falsely stating it would avoid damage to an historic home in Ohio when, in fact, Rover was simultaneously purchasing and destroying the structure.  Rover then made “several misstatements” to the Commission regarding why it had purchased and demolished the house.

“It is unacceptable that people’s land could be taken by a for-profit company like Rover through a certificate gained, at least in part, on the basis of potentially false information,” Pallone and Cantwell wrote to FERC.  “An expanded investigation will help determine whether ETP provided inaccurate information for projects in addition to the Rover pipeline, and confirm whether permitting decisions for these projects were based on accurate and complete information.”

In their letter to FERC, the Ranking Democrats requested that the investigation include a review of all ETP projects and assets subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction, including projects by ETP subsidiaries, in order to fully determine whether ETP has falsified information for other projects. 

In addition to an expanded investigation of ETP, Pallone and Cantwell requested responses to the following questions: 

  • What policies, procedures, and regulations serve to ensure and verify that FERC’s assessments of natural gas pipeline certificate applications are based on complete and accurate information?
  • How many applications for certificates of “public convenience and necessity” did FERC receive during 2000 – 2017, and how many of those applications did FERC deny?
  • What FERC procedures or regulations govern or monitor regional distribution of natural gas pipeline certificate approvals? How do these or other FERC policies or regulations account for the number of existing pipelines in a given region during FERC’s consideration of applications for new natural gas pipeline construction?
  • What actions can FERC take under the NGA or other authority to address willful or significant violations of the Act or the Commission’s regulations?  Could such action include revoking a certificate of public convenience and necessity?  Does FERC have the authority to prevent an entity from receiving future such certificates, where the entity has demonstrated a pattern of willful or significant violations in the past?

A copy of the letter is available here.