FPC v. Hunt
376 U.S. 515 (1964)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

FPC v. Hunt, 376 U.S. 515 (1964)

Federal Power Commission v. Hunt

No. 273

Argued March 2, 1964

Decided March 30, 1964

376 U.S. 515

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. The issuance by the Federal Power Commission (FPC) of a temporary certificate of public convenience and necessity under § 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act, authorizing the sale of natural gas in interstate movement pending determination of an application for permanent certification, may be conditioned in the FPC's discretion upon the maintenance of a prescribed price during the period of the temporary authorization. Pp. 376 U. S. 515-521.

2. The procedure of § 4 of the Act for the filing of proposed changes in rates is available to the producer only after the issuance of a permanent or an unconditional temporary certificate. Pp. 376 U. S. 523-527.

306 F.2d 334, reversed.

MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The issue in this case is whether the Federal Power Commission, when granting an application for a temporary certificate authorizing the sale of natural gas in interstate commerce, can impose a condition that the applicant shall not increase its certificated price pending a hearing on the applicant's petition for permanent authority. Each of the seven applications involved here requested temporary operating authority to sell natural gas in interstate commerce on emergency grounds, as provided by § 7(c) and (e) of the Natural

Page 376 U. S. 516

Gas Act. [Footnote 1] In each case, the Federal Power Commission conditioned the temporary grant of authority upon, inter alia, the producer's maintaining the initial price, without

Page 376 U. S. 517

increase, during the period of the temporary authorization. On appeal, the Court of Appeals set aside this condition, holding that it was beyond the power of the Commission and conflicted with the right of a producer to initiate a higher contract rate under § 4 of the Act. 306 F.2d 334. We granted certiorari because of the importance of the question to the enforcement of the Natural Gas Act. 375 U.S. 810. We conclude that the Commission can impose such a condition in granting temporary authorizations under § 7, and therefore reverse the judgments.

I

While this case involves applications for seven different temporary authorizations, the essential facts as to each, save the dates and gas fields, are the same. Since the parties and the Court of Appeals have treated the sale by the Hassie Hunt Trust as typical, we shall do likewise.

The Hunts are producers of natural gas in the Alta Loma area in Galveston County in Texas Railroad District No. 3. In July, 1960, the Commission issued a permanent certificate authorizing sales of natural gas from the Alta Loma and other areas to the Peoples Gulf Coast Natural Gas Pipeline Co., 24 F.P.C. 1. The authorization was conditioned upon the producer's filing

Page 376 U. S. 518

an amended contract providing for an initial price of 20

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