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NATURAL GAS

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24, 1937

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON INTERSTATE AND FOREIGN COMMERCE,

Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Clarence Lea (chairman) presiding.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order, please.

We have met this morning for hearings on the gas problem. We have before us H. R. 4008 and also H. R. 5711; but my understanding is that the sponsors of H. R. 5711 are agreeable to having the hearing on H. R. 2008.

We held hearings on the question of natural gas regulation in the last Congress between April 2 and 15, 1936. So it seems to be the desire of the Committee not to take up the subject generally again, but in the first instance to hear from those who have amendments to suggest concerning this problem.

(The bills referred to are as follows:)

[H. R. 4008, 75th Cong, 1st sess. ]

A BILL To regulate the transportation and sale of natural gas in interstate commerce,

and for other purposes

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

NECESSITY FOR REGULATION OF NATURAL-GAS COMPANIES

SECTION 1. (a) As disclosed in reports of the Federal Trade Commission made pursuant to S. Res. 83 (Seventieth Congress, first session) and other reports made pursuant to the authority of Congress, it is hereby declared that the business of transporting and selling natural gas for ultimate distribution to the public is affected with a public interest, and that Federal regulation in matters relating to the transportation of natural gas and the sale thereof in interstate and foreign commerce is necessary in the public interest.

(b) The provisions of this Act shall apply to the transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce, to the sale of such natural gas for resale to the public, and to natural-gas companies engaged in such transportation or sale, but shall not apply to the local distribution of natural gas or to the facilities use for such distribution or to the production or gathering of natural gas : Provided, That nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the Commission to fix the rates or charges to the public for the sale of natural gas distributed locally or for the sale of natural gas for industrial use only.

SEC. 2. When used in this Act, unless the context otherwise requires(1) "Person" includes an individual or a corporation.

(2) “Corporation” includes any corporation, joint-stock company, partnership, association, business trust, organized group of persons, whether incor. porated or not, receiver or receivers, trustee or trustees of any of the foregoing, but shall not include municipalities as hereinafter defined.

(3) “Municipality" means a city, county, or other political subdivision or agency of a State.

1

(4) “State” means a State admitted to the United, the District of Columbia, and any organized Territory of the United States.

(5) "Natural-gas company" means a person engaged in the transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce, or the sale of such gas for resale to the public whether or not such gas is mixed with artificial gas.

(6) “Interstate commerce” means commerce between any point in a State and any point outside thereof, or between points within the same State but through any place outside thereof, but only insofar as such commerce takes place within the United States.

(7) “State commission" means the regulatory body of the State or municipality having jurisdiction to regulate rates and charges for the sale of natural gas to consumers within the State or municipality.

(8) " “Commission” and “Commissioner" means the Federal Power Commission, and a member thereof, respectively.

EXPORTATION OF IMPORTATION OF NATURAL GAS

Sec. 3. After six months from the date on which this Act takes effect no person shall export any natural gas from the United States to a foreign country or import any natural gas from a foreign country without first having secured an order of the Commission authorizing it to do so. The Commission shall issue such order upon application, unless, after opportunity for hearing, it finds that the proposed exportation or importation will not be consistent with the public interest. The Commission may by its order grant such application, in whole or in part, with such modification and upon such terms and conditions as the Commission may find necessary or appropriate, and may from time to time, after opportunity for hearing, and for good cause shown, make such supplemental order in the premises as it may find necessary or appropriate.

RATES AND CHARGES ; SCHEDULES; SUSPENSION OF NEW RATES

SEC. 4. (a) All rates and charges made, demanded, or received by any natural-gas company for or in connection with the transportation or sale of natural gas, subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, and all rules and regulations affecting or pertaining to such rates or charges, shall be just and reasonable, and any such rate or charge that is not just and reasonable is hereby declared to be unlawful.

(b) No natural-gas company shall, with respect to any transportation or sale of natural gas, subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, (1) make or grant any undue preference or advantage to any person or subject any person to any undue prejudice or disadvantage; or (2) maintain any unreasonable difference in rates, charges, service, facilities, or in any other respect, either as between localities or as between classes of service.

(c) Under such rules and regulations as the Commission may prescribe, every natural-gas company shall file with the Commission, within such time (not less than sixty days from the date this Act takes effect) and in such form as the Commission may designate, and shall keep open in convenient form and place for public inspection, schedules showing all rates and charges for any transportation or sale subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, and the classifications, practices, and regulations affecting such rates and charges, together with all contracts which in any manner affect or relate to such rates, charges, classifications, and services.

(d) Unless the Commission otherwise orders, no change shall be made by ány natural-gas company in any such rate, charge, classification, or service, or in any rule, regulation, or contract relating thereto, except after thirty days' notice to the Commission and to the pu ic. Such notice shall be given by filing with the Commission and keeping open for public inspection new schedules stating plainly the change or changes to be made in the schedule or schedules then in force and the time when the change or changes will go into effect. The Commission, for good cause shown, may allow changes to take effect without requiring the thirty days' notice herein provided for by an order specifying the changes so to be made and the time when they shall take effect and the manner in which they shall be filed and published.

(e) Whenever any such new schedule is filed the Commission shall have authority, either upon complaint of any State, municipality, or State commission, or upon its own initiative without complaint, at once, and if it so orders, without answer or formal pleading by the natural-gas company, but upon reasonable notice, to enter upon a hearing concerning the lawfulness of such rate, charge, classification, or service; and, pending such hearing and the decision thereon, the Commission, upon filing with such schedules and delivering to the natural-gas company affected thereby a statement in writing of its reasons for such suspension, may suspend the operation of such schedule and defer the use of such rate, charge, classification, or service, but not for a longer period than five months beyond the time when it would otherwise go into effect; and after full hearings, either completed before or after the rate, charge, classification, or service goes into effect, the Commission may make such orders with reference thereto as would be proper in a proceeding initiated after it had become effective. If the proceeding has not been concluded and an order made at the expiration of the suspension period, on motion of the natural-gas company making the filing, the proposed change of rate, charge, classification, or service shall go into effect. Where increased rates or charges are thus made effective, the Commission may, by order, require the natural-gas company to furnish a bond, to be approved by the Commission, to refund any amounts ordered by the Commission, to keep accurate accounts in detail of all amounts received by reason of such increase, specifying by whom and in whose behalf such amounts were paid, and, upon completion of the hearing and decision, to order such natural-gas company to refund, with interest, the portion of such increased rates or charges by its decision found not justified. At any hearing involving a rate or charge sought to be increased, the burden of proof to show that the increased rate or charge is just and reasonable shall be upon the natural-gas company, and the Commission shall give to the hearing and decision of such questions preference over other question's pending before it and decide the same as speedily as possible.

FIXING RATES AND CHARGES ; DETERMINATION OF COST OF PRODUCTION OR RESTORATION

SEC. 5. (a) Whenever the Commission, after a hearing had upon its own motion or upon complaint of any State, municipality, or State commission, shall find that any rate, charge, or classification demanded, observed, charged, or collected by any natural-gas company in connection with any transportation or sale of natural gas, subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, or that any rule, regulation, practice, or contract affecting such rate, charge, or classification is uinjust, unreasonable, unduly discriminatory, or preferential, the Commission shall determine the just and reasonable rate, charge, classification, rule, regulation, practice, or contract to be thereafter observed and in force, and shall fix the same hy order.

(b) The Commission upon its own motion, or upon the request of any State commission, whenever it can do so without prejudice to the efficient and proper conduct of its affairs, may investigate and determine the cost of the production or transportation of natural gas in cases where the Commission has no authority to establish a rate governing the transportation or sale of such natural gas.

ASCERTAINMENT OF COST OF PROPERTY

SEC. 6. (a) The Commission may investigate and ascertain the actual legitimate cost of the property of every natural-gas company, the depreciation therein, and, when found necessary for rate-making purposes, other facts which bear on the determination of such cost or depreciation and the fair value of such property.

(b) Every natural-gas company upon request shall file with the Commission an inventory of all or any part of its property and a statement of the original cost thereof, and shall keep the Commission informed regarding the cost of all additions, betterments, extensions, and new construction.

EXTENSION OF FACILITIES; ABANDONMENT OF SERVICE

SEC. 7. (a) Whenever the Commission, after notice and opportunity for hearing, finds such action necessary or desirable in the public interest, it may by order direct a natural-gas company to extend or improve its transportation facilities, to establish physical connection of its transportation facilities with the facilities of, and sell natural gas to, any person or municipality engaged in the local distribution of natural or artificial gas to the public, and for such purpose to extend its transportation facilities to communities immediately adjacent to such facilities or to territory served by such natural-gas company, if the Commission finds that no undue burden will be placed upon such naturalgas company thereby : Provided, That the Commission shall have no authority to compel the enlargement of transportation facilities for such purposes, or to compel such natural-gas company to establish physical connection or sell natural gas when to do so would impair its ability to render adequate service to its customers.

(b) No natural-gas company shall abandon all or any portion of its facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission, or any service rendered by means of such facilities, without the permission and approval of the Commission first had and obtained, after due hearing, and a finding by the Commission that the available supply of natural gas is depleted to the extent that the continuance of service is unwarranted, or that the present or future public convenience or necessity permit such abandonment.

(c) No natural-gas company shall undertake the construction or extension of any facilities for the transportation of natural gas to a market in which natural gas is already being served by another natural-gas company, or acquire or operate any such facilities or extensions thereof, or engage in transportation by means of any new or additional facilities, or sell natural gas in any such market, unless and until there shall first have been obtained from the Commission a certificate that the present or future public convenience and necessity require or will require such new construction or operation of any such facilities or extensions thereof: Provided, however, That a natural-gas company already serving a market may enlarge or extend its facilities for the purpose of supplying increased market demands in the territory in which it operates. Whenever any natural-gas company shall make application for a certificate of convenience and necessity under the provisions of this subsection, the Commission shall set the matter for hearing and shall give such reasonable notice of the hearing thereon to all interested persons as in its judgment may be necessary under rules and regulations to be prescribed by the Commission.

ACCOUNTS, RECORDS, AND MEMORANDA

SEC. 8. (a) Every natural-gas company shall make, keep, and preserve for such periods, such accounts, records of cost-accounting procedures, correspondence, memoranda, papers, books, and other records as the Commission may by rules and regulations prescribe as necessary or appropriate for purposes of the administration of this Act: Provided, however, That nothing in this Act shall relieve any such natural-gas company from keeping any accounts, memoranda, or records which such natural-gas company may be required to keep by or under authority of the laws of any State. The Commission may prescribe a system of accounts to be kept by such natural-gas companies, and may classify such natural-gas companies and prescribe a system of accounts for each class. The Commission, after notice and opportunity for hearing, may determine by order the accounts in which particular outlays or receipts shall be entered, charged, or credited. The burden of proof to justify every accounting entry questioned by the Commission shall be on the person making, authorizing, or requiring such entry, and the Commission may suspend a charge or credit pending submission of satisfactory proof in support thereof.

(b) The Commission shall at all times have access to and the right to inspect and examine all accounts, records, and memoranda of natural-gas companies ; and it shall be the duty of such natural-gas companies to furnish to the Commission, within such resonable time as the Commission may order, any information with respect thereto which the Commission may by order require, including copies of maps, contracts, reports of engineers, and other data, records, and papers, and to grant to all agents of the Commission free access to its property and its accounts, records, and memoranda when requested so to do. No member, officer, or employee of the Commission shall divulge any fact or information which may come to his knowledge during the course of examination of books, records, data, or accounts, except insofar as he may be directed by the Commission or by a court.

(c) The books, accounts, memoranda, and records of any person who controls directly or indirectly a natural-gas company subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission and of any other company controlled by such person, insofar as they relate to transactions with or the business of such natural-gas company, shall be subject to examination on the order of the Commission.

RATES OF DEPRECIATION

SEC. 9. (a) The Commission may, after hearing, require natural-gas companies to carry proper and adequate depreciation and amortization accounts in accordance with such rules, regulations, and forms of account as the Commission may prescribe. The Commission may from time to time ascertain and determine, and by order fix, the proper and adequate rates of depreciation and amortization of the several classes of property of each natural-gas company used or useful in the transportation or sale of natural gas in interstate commerce. Each natural-gas company shall conform its depreciation and amortization accounts to the rates so ascertained, determined, and fixed. No natural-gas company subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission shall charge to operating expenses any depreciation or amortization charges on classes of property other than those prescribed by the Commission, or charge with respect to any class of property a percentage of depreciation or amortization other than that prescribed therefor by the Commission. No such natural-gas company shall in any case include in any form under its operating or other expenses any depreciation, amortization, or other charge or expenditure included elsewhere as a depreciation or amortization charge or otherwise under its operating or other expenses. Nothing in this section shall limit the power of a State commission to determine in the exercise of its jurisdiction, with respect to any natural-gas company, the percentage rates of depreciation or amortization to be allowed, as to any class of property of such natural-gas company, or the composite depreciation or amortization rate, for the purpose of determining rates or charges.

(b) The Commission, before prescribing any rules or requirements as to accounts, records, or memoranda, or as to depreciation or amortization rates, shall notify each State commission having jurisdiction with respect to any natural-gas company involved and shall give reasonable opportunity to each such commission to present its views and shall receive and consider such views and recommendations.

PERIODIC AND SPECIAL REPORTS

SEC, 10. (a) Every natural-gas company shall file with the Commission such annual and other periodic or special reports as the Commission may by rules and regulations or order prescribe as necessary or appropriate to assist the Commission in the proper administration of this Act. The Commission may prescribe the manner and form in which such reports shall be made, and require from such natural-gas companies specific answers to all questions upon which the Commission may need information. The Commission may require that such reports shall include among other things, full information as to assets and liabilities, capitalization, investment and reduction thereof, gross receipts, interest due and paid, depreciation, amortization, and other reserves, cost of facilities, cost of mantenance and operation of facilities for the production, transportation, or sale of natural gas, cost of renewal and replacement of such facilities, transportation, delivery, use, and sale of natural gas. The Commission may require any such natural-gas company to make adequate provision for currently determining such costs and other facts. Such reports shall be made under oath unless the Commission otherwise specifies.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any natural-gas company willfully to hinder, delay, or obstruct the making, filing, or keeping of any information, document, report, memorandum, record, or account required to be made, filed or kept under this Act or any rule, regulation, or order thereunder.

STATE COMPACTS, REPORTS ON

SEC. 11. (a) In case two or more States propose to the Congress compacts dealing with the conservation, production, transportation, or distribution of natural gas, it shall be the duty of the Commission to assemble pertinent information relative to the matters covered in any such proposed compact, to make public and to report to the Congress information so obtained, together with such recommendations for further legislation as may appear to be appropriate or necessary to carry out the purposes of such proposed compact and to aid in the conservation of natural-gas resources within the United States and in the orderly, equitable, and economic production, transportation, and distribution of natural gas.

(b) It shall be the duty of the Commission to assemble and keep current pertinent information relative to the effect and operation of any compact

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