Natural Gas Regulation: Ex Parte Communications During FERC's Iroquois Pipeline Proceeding

T-OGC-92-1: Jan 16, 1992

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GAO discussed whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) participated in prohibited ex parte communications during a March 1989 Iroquois natural gas pipeline meeting with the companies sponsoring the pipeline. GAO noted that: (1) in March 1989, the Office of Pipeline and Producer Regulation (OPPR) invited pipeline sponsors to a meeting to discuss problems associated with application amendments; (2) during the meeting, OPPR asked the sponsors to respond to a proposal that the Iroquois transport an initially lower volume of gas than specified in the amended applications at the same rates as specified in the amended applications; and (3) during the proceedings, OPPR learned that one company was able and willing to transport a volume lower than it proposed in its amended application. GAO believes that: (1) FERC improperly requested and entertained information regarding an application's merits in a meeting that was not open to all interested parties; (2) the communications during the March meeting were tantamount to a request for expedited treatment which should have been treated as an ex parte communication; and (3) FERC failed to prepare and file sworn statements about the prohibited communications, as required by FERC regulations.