Natural Gas:

Factors Affecting the Time It Takes to Approve Construction of Natural Gas Pipelines

T-RCED-91-73: Published: Jun 27, 1991. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) approval process for natural gas pipeline construction, focusing on the: (1) time it takes FERC to process pipeline construction applications; (2) factors affecting its application processing time; (3) potential impact of FERC actions and proposed regulations and legislation to expedite its application procedures; and (4) need for improvements in its management information systems. GAO noted that: (1) the median time for processing the 125 certificates or approved applications reviewed was 331 days, 40 percent took longer than 1 year, and 10 certificates took at least 2 years; (2) factors affecting processing time included outside intervention, projects involving multiple applicants, unresolved policy issues, incomplete applications, and lengthy environmental reviews; (3) FERC took such actions to reduce its processing and construction times as placing limits on filing competitive applications, adopting a two-phase decision approach, shifting certification process requirements, and requiring less data, and proposed rule changes to further streamline the certification process; (4) proposed legislation would facilitate faster pipeline construction by providing the industry with unregulated options to either limit or increase FERC authority; (5) FERC believes that it needs more authority to continue processing construction applications when agencies do not review environmental assessments in a timely manner; and (6) the FERC information system is deficient and does not enable FERC to effectively evaluate its application review process.

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