APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI.
MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.
These cases were consolidated for argument.They present for decision the single question whether the business of the Kansas Natural Gas Company, hereinafter called the Supply Company, consisting of the transportation of natural gas from one State to another for sale, and its sale and delivery, to distributing companies, is interstate commerce free from state interference?
The facts necessary to be considered in reaching a conclusion are, shortly, as follows:
The Supply Company is a Delaware corporation, engaged in producing and buying natural gas, mostly in Oklahoma but some in Kansas, and, by means of pipe lines, transporting it into Kansas and from Kansas into the State of Missouri, and in each State selling and delivering it to distributing companies, which then sell and deliver it to local consumers in numerous communities in Kansas and Missouri. The gas originating in Kansas is mingled for transportation in the same lines with that originating in Oklahoma. The pipe lines are continuous from the wells to the place of delivery.
The three cases are alike in the fact that they arise from the action of the Supply Company in making an increase of rates from thirty-five cents to forty cents per thousand cubic feet, -- in Missouri, without the consent and approval of the Public Utilities Commission of the State, and, in Kansas, notwithstanding a previous order of the federal court fixing a thirty-five-cent rate and the action of the Utilities Commission approving and fixing that rate. The power of the Utilities Commission of each State is challenged on the ground that the matter, under.
the commerce clause of the Constitution, is not subject to state control.
In No. 155, appellants brought suit in the Federal District Court to enjoin the Supply Company from increasing its rates. The injunction prayed was denied. 282 Fed. 341.
In No. 133, the defendant in error filed a petition in the Kansas Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to compel the Supply Company to re-establish and maintain the rate of thirty-five cents per thousand cubic feet for gas furnished to the distributing companies, until otherwise ordered by the Utilities Commission. The case was presented to that court on demurrer to the return and answer. The demurrer was sustained and a peremptory writ of mandamus allowed, as prayed. 111 Kans. 809.
In No. 137, the suit was to enjoin the Supply Company from collecting or attempting to collect the increased rates from various gas distributing companies until the consent thereto of the Utilities Commission of the State should be secured. The Federal district Court denied the injunction but retained the bill for another purpose, not necessary to be stated. 282 Fed. 680.
The business of the Supply Company, with an exception not important here, is wholly interstate. The sales and deliveries are in large quantities not for consumption but for resale to consumers. There is no relation of agency between the Supply Company and the distributing companies, or other relation except that of seller and buyer, Public Utilities Comm. v. Landon, 249 U.S. 236, 244-245; and the interest of the former in the commodity ends with its delivery to the latter, to which title and control thereupon pass absolutely. The question is, therefore, presented in its simplest form; and if the claim of state power be ...