Federal Power Commission v. Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation

PETITIONER: Federal Power Commission
RESPONDENT: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation
LOCATION: Federal Power Commission

DOCKET NO.: 75-584
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 423 US 326 (1976)
DECIDED: Jan 19, 1976

Facts of the case

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation (TGPL) proposed a plan for gas allocation among its customers to deal with a gas shortage. Under the plan, customers who used over the system-wide average would have to pay extra, and those who used less would receive a rebate. The Federal Power Commission (FPC) rejected the plan, stating it violated the Natural Gas Act, which prohibits discrimination among customers. The TGPL sought review of the FPC decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The court directed the FPC to conduct a review of TGPL’s records to determine the extent of the gas shortage. The FPC refused, arguing that the court overstepped its bounds by interfering with an independent administrative agency. The FPC also argued that the extent of the gas shortage was not material to the issues in the litigation.

Question

Did the U.S. Court of Appeals have the power to direct the FPC to conduct a review of TGPL’s gas shortage?