Let's hope that by now we all prefer market solutions to government mandates. Markets are generally more efficient and equitable. Recent experiences with deregulation for airlines and telecommunications have vindicated Adam Smith's notion that the "invisible hand" can prove superior to regulation.
Unfortunately, this knowledge offers little comfort today to natural gas pipelines (em even to those companies not saddled with a surplus of transportation capacity.
A Great Start (But Too Cautious)
Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) FERC have made a great start in the deregulation of the energy industry generally, and the natural gas business in particular. Several industry segments are now completely deregulated. The balance of the industry is ripe for similar consideration. The apparent reluctance to extend competitive market principles to the interstate pipelines, even though such reform is warranted and justified, has proved frustrating.
The FERC has moved with excessive caution in some respects. In others, one could even say that it has bolstered regulatory barriers to open markets. This backward step comes in spite of the fact that the FERC has precipitated changes in some cases that break the "regulatory compact" that limits revenues earned by the pipeline industry in exchange for restrictions against would-be competitors.