California v. Federal Power Commission

PETITIONER: California
RESPONDENT: Federal Power Commission
LOCATION: United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 187
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 369 US 482 (1962)
ARGUED: Mar 01, 1962
DECIDED: Apr 30, 1962

Facts of the case

Question

Media for California v. Federal Power Commission

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 01, 1962 (Part 2) in California v. Federal Power Commission

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 01, 1962 (Part 1) in California v. Federal Power Commission

Earl Warren:

Number 187, California, Petitioner, versus Federal Power Commission, et al.

Mr. Bennett.

William M. Bennett:

Mr. Chief Justice Warren and members of the Court.

This is a case which has grave issues in it.

It's a case which is of some length and it's a case in which the gravity of the errors can be understood only by a comprehensive and complete understanding of the facts.

The facts are of great significance because they demonstrate the gravity of the three errors which I maintain exist in this record.

I maintain that the Power Commission in this case erroneously, unlawfully and excessive jurisdiction decided an antitrust question not given to them to decide.

I maintain that the Federal Power Commission absent evidence or upon inadequate evidence adopted an erroneous standard of public convenience and necessity in this case, and I maintain that California and other interveners in this case were denied a fair hearing and due process because of things done improperly or because of things omitted to be done and because of things done outside of the record in this case.

And so at the beginning, I should like to point out to the Court that we're concerned here with three principal characters in this drama of corporate intrigue.

We're concerned with the El Paso Natural Gas Company which at that time of this case was the sole out-of-state supplier of natural gas in the State of California.

It is a company with a capitalization of about $1,300,000,000.

It has a utility plant in service of approximately $800,000,000.

It delivers two billion cubic feet of gas per day to the State of California on an average basis.

It collects approximately $300,000,000 on an annual basis from the State of California and it did this at the time of this case without competition from any other pipeline.

It operates a pipeline system extending 6700 miles in length.

It extends from Mexico to Canada.

It extends from Oklahoma to California and it traverses the Rocky Mountain States.

This growth and this size which is relevant to this case, was caused by -- and I don't say this with any degree of criticism was caused by the growth of the State of California.

California with its 16 million people and its five million gas consumers is the number one gas consuming state in the United States of America.

And California as a State is unique with reference to natural gas.

This is not a luxury item.

This is not an automobile you may buy or choose.

This is natural gas which you must have whether you are a householder whether you are an industrialist.

It is essential to daily life in California presently and even more essential when we look into the future.

California does not have coal.

This heightens the dependence upon natural gas.

The homes of California are not so constructed that the householders of California may revert to fuel oil.

The industry of California even such industry as is adopted to converting the fuel oil on given days, peak days as we call them, generally speaking may not reject natural gas and utilize fuel oil because of small ordinances or small gloss.

For example in the County of Los Angeles, from May until November, the burning of fuel oil is prohibited.

This heightens the necessity and the need of my state for natural gas.