FERC revises rules protecting critical infrastructure

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a proposed rulemaking Sept. 21 that would revise its regulations that protect disclosure of critical energy infrastructure information (CEII).

In a notice of the proposed rulemaking, FERC proposes revising its regulations to allow annual certification of repeat requesters of CEII, and for an authorized representative to file a non-disclosure agreement. It would make the existing Freedom of Information Act fee schedule applicable to CEII requests and would abolish the non-Internet public category of information.

The rulemaking also provides further instructions on how to file hydropower project documents with FERC’s Division of Dam Safety and Inspections, and with its Division of Hydropower Licensing. FERC’s Office of Energy Projects previously issued a document, in 2005, giving hydropower project operators guidance on providing more consistent access to CEII without increasing vulnerability of energy infrastructure to terrorists. It is available on the Internet at www.ferc.gov/legal/ceii-foia/ceii/guidance-dam.pdf.

FERC said the proposed rule offers a more efficient process for handling CEII requests. For those submitting critical energy infrastructure information, it provides guidance on materials the commission accepts as containing CEII.

Comments on the proposed rulemaking (RM06-23) are due to FERC 30 days after publication of the notice in the Federal Register. The rulemaking also is posted on FERC’s Internet site, www.ferc.gov, under the commission’s Legal Resources link, www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/092106/M-1.pdf.

FERC amends regulations for gaining access to CEII

In a separate notice issued the same day, FERC issued a final rule amending its regulations for gaining access to critical energy infrastructure information. The final rule (RM06-24, Order No. 683) clarifies the definition of CEII to exclude information never intended to be deemed as containing CEII.

The rule, which is available on the Internet at www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/092106/M-2.pdf, also explains procedural changes being made based on more than three years’ experience processing CEII requests. The changes, FERC said, are intended to simplify the procedures for obtaining access to CEII, without increasing the vulnerability of the energy infrastructure.

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