Bill Cassidy’s Proposed Questions To The FERC Nominees

Mary Landrieu, as our readers and virtually everybody else who follow politics in Louisiana know, has advertised her newfound chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee as an indispensable asset to the state and its leading industry.

But so far, Landrieu has struggled to generate any deliverables out of that chairmanship, and most notably face-planted in her efforts to get a bill through the Senate mandating authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline. What’s more, Landrieu’s committee hasn’t exactly emerged as a crucible for obnoxiously anti-oil and gas Obama administration nominees, like the left-wing moonbat Rhea Suh, seeking confirmation.

That issue is about to return to the forefront today, as the committee is about to have a hearing on Cheryl LaFleur and Norman Bay, a pair of nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC isn’t the most high-profile department of the federal government, but in the midst of the Obama administration’s jihad against the coal industry – which puts the nation’s power supply in not a small bit of jeopardy, as Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta noted in these pages yesterday – it’s becoming more and more important to the nation’s economy. Stupid FERC policy can lead to brownouts and blackouts, and brownouts and blackouts make for a Third World economy in relatively short order.

So with that, Rep. Bill Cassidy – Landrieu’s main opponent in the upcoming – thought he’d help the Chair out with a few questions that ought to be asked at the hearing.

“FERC’s decisions can make or break Louisiana’s ability to increase oil and gas jobs. Our workers are ready and waiting to use our natural resources to lead the way in achieving energy independence,” said Rep. Cassidy. “President Obama and Harry Reid’s war on energy is no secret. Therefore, it must be a priority to make sure FERC’s leaders can provide proper oversight and regulation so we can push our energy industries forward.”

Cassidy’s questions… 

  1. Under former Chairman Wellinghoff, FERC’s “top initiatives” included: smart grid; demand response; integration of renewables; and Order No. 1000 – transmission planning and cost allocation. How will you redirect FERC’s priorities during your tenure as Chairman?
  2. Do you agree that FERC’s limited resources would be better spent on priorities such as natural gas pipeline permitting, hydropower licensing and relicensing, LNG facility siting, ensuring the proper function of organized wholesale electricity markets, and grid reliability?
  3. The President has directed EPA to issue proposed regulations limiting emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from existing fossil fuel electric generation units by June. Have you or anyone at FERC had discussions with any EPA or DOE staff, or provided them information, regarding the potential reliability or price impacts of EPA regulation of GHGs from existing fossil fuel units?
  4. If the Administration continues down its path of taking fuel choice decisions away from the electric industry, and reducing fuel diversity, what negative consequences would you expect?
  5. Can you please discuss what FERC is doing, and plans to do, to review and improve wholesale power market rules so that markets are sending the proper investment signals in light of structural changes impacting the power sector?
  6. When it comes to trading in natural gas and electricity markets, and without simply reciting statutory language, what is your understanding of how FERC defines market manipulation?
  7. While FERC takes the appropriate steps to thoroughly review the abandonment application of the Midla Pipeline requested by American Midstream Partners, I hope the application will include an investigation on the following:
    • How exactly were premium payments utilized in the process of maintenance and developing a long-term strategy for pipeline infrastructure to the region that would otherwise replace or modify Midla’s service over the last several decades?
    • Were these premiums adequately reinvested in the repair and maintenance of the pipeline by American Midstream or were the premiums allocated and spent elsewhere within the company?
    • Was the maintenance history sufficient in preceding decades to meet all standards for strategic pipeline planning to ensure the integrity and safety to customers in the region?
    • Did the purchasers who recently acquired Midla adequately review the integrity of the pipeline, and were they aware of the physical state of the asset they were acquiring?
    • And finally, if the purchasers were not aware of the physical state or integrity of the pipeline, why did they fail to take such factors into consideration when purchasing the pipeline as a matter of due diligence?
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