FERC Official: Oklahoma at Center of Energy Issues

Article excerpt

Natural gas from underground formations of shale rock has become a game changer, said Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur.

"It affects everything that FERC does," LaFleur said.

LaFleur was in Tulsa this week to attend a Southwest Power Pool workshop, then address students and faculty at the University of Tulsa College of Law's John Rogers Hall. The event was co-sponsored by the Energy Bar Association and the Foundation of the Energy Law Journal.

Since becoming one of four FERC members, LaFleur has crossed the U.S. to understand the energy challenges facing the nation.

LaFleur said she is amazed to see how engaged the state's oil and gas sectors seem to be.

"I would say that Oklahoma has a lot more opportunities than challenges," LaFleur said. "Oklahoma, with the shale natural gas plays, is at the center of so much that we are doing."

LaFleur was one of the speakers this week during the Woodford Summit at the University of Oklahoma in Norman about the Woodford Shale play in the McAlester region.

The FERC regulates interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil.

The agency also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects. Among its other roles, FERC oversees environmental matters related to natural gas and hydroelectricity projects. Also, the agency reviews certain mergers, acquisitions and corporate transactions by electric companies.

"There has been a rapid growth of applications for pipelines in the Northeast to bring gas to market," LaFleur said. "We are seeing a tremendous amount of interest in building pipelines in the Marcellus Shale region because of the little capacity there. …