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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Gas Pre-Filing


1. What happens at Open Houses?

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.

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2. What happens at Scoping Meetings?

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.

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3. What are the processes for natural gas certificates?

Please visit our Processes section located under the Help section of our website.
» Pre-Filing Environmental Review Process

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4. An interstate natural gas facility on my land? What do I need to know?

Please visit our Citizen's Guide section | Gas Guide PDF

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5. What is eminent domain?

Section 7(h) of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) External Link grants the right of eminent domain when a certificate of public convenience and necessity is issued by the Commission under section 7(c) of the NGA.

Thus, when the Commission finds that a proposed project is in the public convenience and necessity, the pipeline company has the right to acquire the property for that project by eminent domain if the pipeline cannot acquire the necessary land through a negotiated easement or where the landowner and the pipeline cannot agree on the compensation to be paid for the land.

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6. Can the workers from the company come on my land without my permission?

State or local trespass and access laws prevail until a certificate is issued by the Commission. Some states have laws that allow a company to get access to property for survey purposes. Procedures vary by state. Once a certificate is issued or an easement/survey agreement or court order is obtained, the company may come onto your land. Usually the company will notify you in advance.

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7. What is the Commission's role in land negotiations?

Throughout the pipeline certificate proceedings, the Commission staff is responsive to landowners’ concerns.  When a landowner requests reasonable right-of-way adjustments or other accommodations, staff actively seeks the pipeline company’s concurrence.  Also, staff may make appropriate recommendations to the Commission to ensure that any certificate that may be issued is conditioned to require the pipeline company to make reasonable accommodations requested by landowners or affected towns.  Further, the Commission expects pipeline companies to negotiate fairly, honestly and respectfully with landowners when they negotiation an easement.  If a negotiation cannot be completed in a manner suitable to both parties, then it will go into condemnation proceedings, and the damages will be settled by the courts.  Regarding compensation, this is a private business concern between the landowner and the company.  According to the Natural Gas Act, compensation disputes must be settled in the courts.

18 CFR § 157.21 Leaving FERC - Pre-filing procedures and review process for LNG terminal facilities and other natural gas facilities prior to filing of applications.

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Updated: May 30, 2012