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Slow process needed to fix gas pipeline mess

Rarely does the slow, prodding pace of the federal government prove useful, but last week we saw one of those rare exceptions.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission tapped the brakes on a plan by owners of the large natural gas pipeline that feeds Natchez, Vidalia, Ferriday, Woodville and other areas in the region.

FERC’s move gives all partners involved more time to talk and work out their differences.

American Midstream Partners had requested FERC shorten the window in which people could file complaints against the pipeline owners’ plans to abandon the line.

Owners have said the pipeline is too old and has safety issues that would be too costly to repair or replace.

Despite some outlandish guesses by some local officials of the likely cost that would be passed along to customers, American Midstream suggests the average customer might have to pay less than $2 extra per month to help offset the costs to the company.

Of course, as we suggested earlier, the abandonment talk and back and forth worries with politicians, gas line customers, the pipeline owners and now the federal regulators, is all part of a poker game.

The gas won’t be completely shut off, in our estimation, but each player is simply jockeying to figure out how little of the repair cost each will have to bear.

Perhaps the slow grind of the federal regulators will allow all involved to simply work out the matter and stop wasting more time and money.

At the end, if the pipeline needs to be replaced, most users will understand if the problem is clearly communicated, not simply delivered as a threat.