Saturday, November 2, 2013

FERC cert. preempts local noise ord. for compressor stations (National Fuel v. Town of Wales)

In case you live near an interstate gas pipeline under FERC jurisdiction
and were thinking you could control compressor station noise via town ordinance:
Bottom line: not possible.

Case# 12-CV-034S
US District Court, Western District

National Fuel Gas Supply Corp. v. Town of Wales (Eric County)

National Fuel planned to build a compressor station in defendant town.
In March 2011 it sought a certificate of public convenience (Certificate) from the
Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC). It sought a special use
permit from the town in July.

FERC's Certificate required National Fuel to make "all reasonable efforts" to maintain
"predicted noise levels." Further, National was to file reports and install additional controls
if noise attributed to its compressor station at full load exceeded a day-night average
sound level of 55 decibels at any nearby noise sensitive area.

By contrast Special Conditions 3 and 4 of the town's permit imposed a stricter decibel
requirement and mandated the station not exceed three decibels over "background
ambient noises as determined by FERC." The court held the town's permit inconsistent
with—and interfered with—the Certificate, and was thus preempted by federal law.

Because FERC considered and set limits on noise levels in connection with the compressor
station, the FERC Certificate preempts local regulation on the subject. However, a permanent
injunction was unnecessary. There was no evidence tending to show that the town would seek
to enforce the permit despite the court's order.

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

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