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United Gas Pipe Line Co. v. Federal Power Commission.

decided: August 27, 1953.

UNITED GAS PIPE LINE CO.
v.
FEDERAL POWER COMMISSION.



Author: Kalodner

Before GOODRICH, McLAUGHLIN and KALODNER, Circuit Judges.

KALODNER, Circuit Judge.

Does this Court have jurisdiction to review an Order of the Federal Power Commission ("Commission") in a rate investigation proceeding under Section 5(a) of the Natural Gas Act*fn1 ("Act") which directs a gas distributing company to "go forward first with the presentation of its evidence?"

That is the primary question presented by the instant Petition of the United Gas Pipe Line Company ("United") to Review and Set Aside the Order and the Commission's Motion to Dismiss.

United asserted that this Court has jurisdiction under Section 19(b) of the Act*fn2 and Section 10 of the Administrative Procedure Act;*fn3 the Commission contends the contrary is true.

The admitted relevant facts preceding the filing of the Petition to Review and the Motion to Dismiss are as follows:

By order issued November 26, 1952, the Commission consolidated four separate proceedings. The proceedings at Docket No. G-1142, with which we are primarily concerned, was an investigation of United's rates and charges for the transportation or sale of natural gas for resale, subject to the Commission's jurisdiction, initiated by the Commission by order of October 12, 1948, pursuant to Section 5(a) of the Act, in order to determine whether such rates and charges were just and reasonable, and if after hearing, they were found to be unjust and unreasonable, to fix just and reasonable rates and charges.

The proceeding at Docket No. G-1508, arose on an order of the Commission issued October 16, 1950, requiring United to file a restatement of its effective rates, charges, classifications, practices, regulations and contracts for the transportation or sale of natural gas for resale subject to the Commission's jurisdiction on or before January 2, 1951, in the form required by Commission regulations, or to show good cause at a public hearing why it should not be required to do so.

Docket No. G-2019 is a proceeding with respect to a proposed increase in rates and charges by United to five natural-gas companies amounting to approximately $9,500,000 annually, based on estimated sales for the twelve-month perid ending April 30, 1953, which United filed on July 3, 1952, and with respect to notices of cancellation, filed at the same time by United, of rate schedules on file with the Commission which United asserts are no longer subject to the Commission's jurisdiction.

By order issued August 1, 1952, the Commission, pursuant to the authority of Section 4(e) of the Act, suspended the proposed rate increases and the proposed notices of cancellation until January 3, 1953, and until such further time as they might be made effective in the manner prescribed by the Act. The order also provided for a public hearing, to be held at a time and place to be fixed by further order of the Commission.

On September 16, 1952, United filed certain revised sheets to its effective tariff, proposing a rate increase of approximately $131,258 annually, to United Gas Corporation, its parent, for resale in fifteen communities and towns located in northwest Mississippi. The Commission, by order issued October 15, 1952, at Docket No. G-2074, suspended such proposed increase until March 17, 1953, and until such further time thereafter as such revised sheets might be made effective in the manner prescribed by Act. Additionally, such order consolidated the proceeding upon the proposed increases as Docket No. G-2019 with that at Docket No. G-2074. The order also provided for a public hearing to be held in the consolidated proceedings at a time and place to be fixed by further order of the Commission.

Subsequently, by order issued January 14, 1953, at Docket No. G-2019, and April 1, 1953 at Docket No. G-2074, the proposed rate increases were permitted to become effective, under bond, subject to refund upon final disposition of the proceedings at Docket Nos. G-2019 and G-2074.

By order issued November 26, 1952, as previously stated, the Commission consolidated the two suspension proceedings at Docket Nos. G-2019 and G-2074, with the rate investigation proceeding at Docket No. G-1142 and the show-cause proceeding at Docket No. G-1508, and ordered that a public hearing be held commencing on December 15, 1952, concerning the issues raised by such consolidated proceedings. The Commission found that:

"3. It is necessary and appropriate to carry out the provisions of the Natural Gas Act, and it is in the public interest, that the procedure hereinafter prescribed shall be followed at the hearing in order ...


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