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    US FERC to seek comments on policy statements

Summary

Initial policy statement process caused much confusion amongst natural gas stakeholders.

by: Dale Lunan

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Complimentary, Natural Gas & LNG News, Americas, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Political, Regulation, Infrastructure, Pipelines, News By Country, United States

US FERC to seek comments on policy statements

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted at its regular monthly meeting March 24 to seek comments on two policy statements it issued in February changing how it views greenhouse gas emissions associated with natural gas pipelines and liquefaction facilities.

FERC chair Richard Glick said the policy statements were intended to address several recent judicial rulings that cast doubt on how the commission went about approving natural gas pipeline and LNG facility siting applications. And they would have applied retroactively to applications already before the commission.

“The policy statements were intended to provide a more legally durable framework for the commission to consider proposed natural gas projects,” Glick said. “However, in light of concerns that the policy statements created further confusion about the commission’s approach to the siting of natural gas projects, the commission decided it would be helpful to gather additional comments from all interested stakeholders, including suggestions for creating greater certainty, before implementing the new policy statements.”

The policy statements will be considered as draft statements and will not be applied to pending or filed applications. Comments on the draft policy statements are due by April 25, with reply comments due May 25, the commission said.

David Holt, president of Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), praised FERC for listening to “very legitimate concerns” raised about the policy statements and their implications for energy security and reliability.

“Now we can move forward with the existing clear, consistent rules for natural gas and other energy projects, which should be the goal of any regulator,” Hold said. “The initial policy statements changed the rules midstream for projects that had already followed the law and requirements of the FERC process that has been in place for decades.”

Environmental groups, understandably, were not happy with the decision to suspend the policy statement process, and with decisions taken by the commission at the same meeting to approve three natural gas pipeline capacity expansions.

“The fossil fuel industry and the politicians they finance are pitching a fit because they’re worried FERC’s modest proposed policy changes might mean they no longer have free rein to build as many polluting pipelines as they want with no regard for the impacts on communities or the climate,” Kelly Sheehan, Sierra Club’s senior director of energy campaigns, said in a statement. “The commission’s draft policy statements are just a small step towards doing what’s legally required of them and building a fairer system, but FERC’s approval today of fracked gas pipelines makes it painfully clear that FERC has not changed course.”

The projects approved by the commission include Southern Natural Gas Company’s Southern Compression project and new pipe on the Tennessee Gas system that together would provide 2bn ft3/day of firm transportation service to Venture Global’s proposed Plaquemines LNG terminal in Louisiana, Columbia Gulf Transmission’s East Lateral XPress Project to provide an additional 183mn ft3/day of firm service to the Gator Express Pipeline, also in Louisiana, and additional compression and cooling facilities on the Iroquois Gas Transmission System to provide an additional 125mn ft3/day of service capacity in New York state.