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FERC issues guidance on stakeholder outreach practices

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World Pipelines,

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has released guidance on best practices for stakeholder outreach programmes for natural gas projects. The document, ‘Suggested Best Practices for Industry Outreach Programs to Stakeholders’, was prepared by FERC’s Office of Energy Projects.

Over the past decade, the natural gas industry has experienced a period of significant growth. This growth, along with increased public awareness of the Commission’s review process and heightened controversy over pipeline projects, has resulted in greater public involvement in the development and siting of natural gas facilities. As a result, FERC staff and other federal, state, and local agencies have become increasingly interested in providing guidance for stakeholder involvement both within and outside the agencies. FERC staff are addressing this issue, in part, by organising and attending conferences, seminars, public meetings, and workshops designed to explain and explore issues related to siting natural gas projects. In addition, the staff routinely work with the project sponsors and stakeholders to identify and resolve issues prior to the filing of an application through use of the Commission’s prefiling process, which provides an opportunity and a means for the Commission’s staff to involve the public early. It also reduces the time it takes to develop the record on which the Commission makes its decision while ensuring the highest levels of environmental protection and public participation.

For several years, FERC staff have discussed the importance of a strong and efficient stakeholder outreach plan that incorporates the use of public outreach tools and involves greater training for industry representatives. Some companies have embraced this idea and established model programmes, while other companies have yet to implement a stakeholder outreach programme. Consequently, FERC reviewed companies with well established stakeholder outreach programmes to assess how they plan for and execute outreach on individual projects. The results of those discussions were combined with the FERC’s own experience to identify some of the best practices for stakeholder outreach.

The purpose of the guidance is to present those best practices and highlight the tools that can be used to effectively engage stakeholders in the application process for siting, construction, and operation of interstate natural gas facilities and LNG terminals. The guidance is for reference use only and does not constitute a new regulation that is required of FERC regulated companies. Furthermore, following any or all of the best practices outlined in the guidance does not guarantee Commission approval for any given project.

Click here to access FERC’s ‘Suggested Best Practices for Industry Outreach Programs to Stakeholders’.

Adapted from report by Rosalie Starling

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