Regulatory Process

/Regulatory Process
Regulatory Process 2017-08-04T15:26:58+00:00

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, also known as the FERC, is the main regulatory body in charge of the review and permitting process for LNG export facilities. This rigorous process includes in-depth review of environmental, social, and economic impacts of proposed projects. On this page, you can find more information on what the FERC process is, how it operates and what you need to know as interested parties.

Both the Terminal and Pipeline are regulated by a variety of federal (and state) agencies. One of the most important agencies that must approve the Terminal and Pipeline before they can be built is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As a first step in the FERC approval process, Rio Grande and Rio Bravo have entered into the FERC “Pre-Filing Process” during which members of the public had multiple opportunities to provide input on the Projects. During the Pre-Filing Process, Rio Grande and Rio Bravo provided the FERC with numerous, detailed reports about the Terminal, the Pipeline and their anticipated environmental impacts, all of which have been made available to the public.

The FERC initiated the Pre-Filing Process on April 13, and has assigned the Projects a unique docket number for the process – PF15-20. Documents concerning the Projects were posted online under this docket number and can be found using the e-library feature of the FERC’s website: www.FERC.gov

On May 5, 2016, Rio Grande and Rio Bravo filed applications to site, construct and operate the Projects, beginning the large-scale NEPA review process. The FERC assigned Rio Grande docket CP16-454 and Rio Bravo docket CP16-455. The application and all other documents concerning the Projects have and will continue to be posted online under these docket number and can be found using the e-library feature of the FERC’s website: www.FERC.gov

One common misunderstanding is the difference between Open Houses and Scoping Meetings. Open Houses are sponsored by the Company, and Scoping Meetings are sponsored by FERC (see discussion below for information on Scoping Meetings). As part of the Company’s community outreach program in Commission’s pre-filing process, the Company will hold Open Houses in the vicinity of the proposed project area to share information about its project with the public.

The Commission frequently sends staff to attend open houses during pre-filing to answer questions, discuss the FERC’s pre-filing process, and invite stakeholders/public to participate in the environmental and certificate application proceedings. An important component of the NEPA review of projects involves public input early in the process.

The goal of the Commission’s pre-filing process is to notify all project stakeholders, including potentially affected property owners, so that Company and the Commission Staff can provide a forum to hear the issues relevant to those stakeholders. The Company may then incorporate proposed mitigation measures into the project design from comments received from stakeholders.

*Source: http://ferc.gov/help/faqs/prefiling.asp

Scoping meetings, which are sponsored by FERC, are utilized by staff to identify relevant issues of major Certificate projects, pursuant to NEPA. Scoping is the process of defining and refining the scope of a environmental impact statement (EIS) or environmental assessment (EA) and the alternatives to be investigated. The scoping process is one of the opportunities for public involvement. Affected property owners and other stakeholders can provide detailed comments about issues pertaining to their properties. For example, stakeholders can provide information on sensitive environmental features in the project area; suggest alternatives to be evaluated; or help identify construction constraints.

FERC staff may hold public scoping meetings in the project area for major projects that typically require an EIS or EA. The scoping meetings are typically held during the Commission’s pre-filing process, but may be held after the application is officially filed with the Commission.

FERC scoping meetings are open to the general public and are structured for people to make statements to the FERC staff about the project. FERC staff describes the environmental review process with members of the public, provides relevant information, and answers procedural questions. The Company is present and typically gives a summary of its project and is available before and after the formal part of the meeting for questions and answers. One of the main purposes of a formal scoping meeting is so the members of the public get an opportunity to speak their concerns. Comments on the proposed project may be submitted in written form or made verbally during the course of the scoping meeting. The scoping meetings are recorded by a stenographer and will become part of the formal record of the Commission proceeding on the project. Scoping meeting transcripts are accessible and placed in the record through the Commission’s eLibrary system, in the docket number assigned to the proceeding.

Information gathered at scoping meetings during pre-filing help the Company prepare environmental mitigation measures to present in its environmental resource reports filed with the Commission in its Certificate Application. In return, this information provides FERC staff with the resources needed to publish a more complete environmental document for public review. Companies not involved in the pre-filing process are not afforded the benefit of resolving stakeholder concerns prior to filing their Certificate Applications.

*Source: http://ferc.gov/help/faqs/prefiling.asp