Make the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Accountable to Americans

FERC Doesn’t WORK!

Dear President Obama,

American citizens facing filing deadlines at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are facing a crisis. Over the past two weekends (Thursday 12/24- Sunday 12/27 and Thursday 12/31 – Sunday 1/3), FERC shut down their e-filing system. The first weekend, they said their office needed to close by direct order from your office. This weekend, anyone attempting to file is met with a notice claiming “Inclement Weather”, even though it’s in the 40s and mostly sunny in DC all weekend.

For the tens of thousands of us facing a January 6 deadline to File a Motion to Intervene on the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline (Docket #16-21), this has been entirely unfair, especially knowing that FERC’s website is prone to locking up when too much data flows in and out at once.  Website portals for public input are shut down (the ability to Register, Comment or File a Motion to Intervene). These are automated functions that normally run on other weekends when the office is closed – they do not require staff present.  Why have they chosen to create a bottleneck in the last three business days of filing for this project?  This has been 8 out of the last 13 days before the deadline that the system is closed for any input from the public.

In late November, I had the pleasure of hearing Comm. Honorable speak passionately about how FERC needs to engage more with stakeholders. This is NOT how that is achieved.  Now this weekends’ dozen-plus filing workshops are being held without any online access. For the general public, gaining fair input into a pipeline proposal is hard. While FERC, PHMSA and the pipeline companies work full time at putting a proposal together, it’s the impacted community stakeholders – those who bear the risks of having a pipeline near them – that need to find time outside of job and family obligations to learn about an industry they know nothing about and never asked to be involved in, and how to make sure their interests are heard in the decision over whether or not it’s built.

This is just the latest in a series of troublesome realizations of how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission functions. At the very least, we need an extension of at least 8 days to make up for those lost due to inexplicable closures. I would like to request that you speak to FERC on our behalf on this extension, and then hopefully initiate further investigation of possible reforms.

Thank you.
Rosemary Wessel
Cummington, MA 01026

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