If you guessed the taxpayers, as I did, nope. On FERC’s own About FERC web page:
The Commission is funded through costs recovered by the fees and annual charges from the industries it regulates.
To make it even richer, the sentence before that reads:
There is no review of FERC decisions by the President or Congress, maintaining FERC’s independence as a regulatory agency, and providing for fair and unbiased decisions.
But FERC’s web page says nothing about FERC’s independence from the industries it regulates.
Regulatory capture happens when a regulatory agency, formed to act in the public’s interest, eventually acts in ways that benefit the industry it is supposed to be regulating, rather than the public.
Maybe that’s why FERC has only denied two pipeline certificates and neither of those were for standalone pipelines like Sabal Trail.
Maybe being funded by the industries it regulates is why FERC hasn’t answered these questions or EPA’s questions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is funded by tax dollars, not by the industry it regulates, which may help explain how it came up with numerous questions that FERC did not.
FERC actually does have a U.S. House oversight subcommittee, the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, before which all of FERC’s Commissioners testified 5 December 2013. That subcommittee’s parent Committee on Commerce and Energy voted 30 April 2014 for H.R. 6, which would permit LNG export to all 159 WTO member countries. While that’s bad, nonetheless Congress could change FERC’s charter as it has often in the past, so there is oversight. And not even FERC’s web pages try to claim there’s no oversight through the courts.
And it may help to know what they’re dealing with, as in FERC, the agency that approves federal pipeline certificates, is funded by the very companies it regulates.