New regs for Wednesday: Legal services, natural gas pipelines, energy efficiency

Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules about legal services, natural gas pipelines, and energy efficiency. 

Here's what is happening:

Legal services: The Legal Services Corporation plans to update the maximum amount of money a person can make each year and still be financially eligible for legal assistance. Courts offer public defenders to certain low-income defendants, but some people make too much money to qualify for this service and have to pay for their own lawyers. 

The Legal Services Corporation plans to update the maximum income levels on Wednesday, in accordance with federal poverty guidelines. People who make up to 125 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for legal assistance.

In 2014, that means a person who lives in one of the contiguous states can make up to $14,588 and still be eligible for free legal assistance. A two-person household can make up to $19,663, a three-person household can make up to $24,738, a five-percent household can make up to $34,888, and an eight-person household can make up to $50,113.

People who make more than that amount, but less than 200 percent of the poverty limit may be eligible for legal assistance at a lower cost.

This year's federal poverty guidelines were published on Jan. 22.

Aliens: The Legal Services Corporation is also considering changes to a rule about providing legal assistance to aliens, or foreigners who are not U.S. citizens. The Operations and Regulations Committee at the Legal Services Corporation is considering the changes.

The Legal Services Corporation is guided by restrictions on providing funds to aliens to cover their legal expenses.

Pipelines: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission plans to update the projected costs and annual limits that companies can spend on natural gas pipelines in 2014. The cost limits apply to the construction, acquisition, and operation of natural gas pipelines. The rule also establishes dollar limits for underground storage testing and development.

The prior notice projected cost limit for the construction, acquisition, operation, and replacement of natural gas pipelines rose to $31.9 million in 2014, up $500,000 from the limit in 2013. The limit has nearly tripled from $12 million when it was first established in 1982. 

The spending limit for storage testing and development ticked up to $6.1 million in 2014, from from $6 million last year and $2.7 million in 1982.

The rule goes into effect Wednesday.

Energy efficiency: The Department of Energy is considering new energy conservation standards for commercial and industrial air compressors. This is part of an effort to improve energy efficiency of products and commercial equipment. 

The Energy Department plans to hold a public meeting on Monday, March 3 to discuss the new rules.

Privacy: The Department of Defense is finalizing privacy policies and procedures for the National Guard Bureau. The new privacy policy covers areas where the National Guard is not covered by exciting rules from the Department of Defense. The rule goes into effect in one month.