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    US Regulator Draws Ire for Gulf South Lateral Approval


Ferc commissioner chides commission for ignoring GHG impacts

by: Dale Lunan

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US Regulator Draws Ire for Gulf South Lateral Approval

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc) approved a small lateral project by Gulf South Pipeline Company at its July 18 meeting, and for the second time in a week drew the ire of commissioner Richard Glick, who dissented from the approval.

The Willis Lateral Project in Texas will allow for the delivery of about 200mn ft3/day of natural gas from Gulf South Pipeline’s interstate transmission system to a 1 GW gas-fired combined cycle power plant near Willis, Texas that is being proposed by Entergy Texas.

It’s a relatively small project – 19 miles of 24-inch pipe, one 15,876-hp gas-fired turbine compressor station and various above- and under-ground facilities. The projected cost is about $95mn.

But the project will result in additional greenhouse gas emissions, both during the operation of the pipeline and when the gas it delivers is combusted to generate electricity at the power plant. And that is where Glick’s dissent is rooted – because the commission’s approval of the project violates both the Natural Gas Act (NGA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“The commission again refuses to consider the consequences its actions have for climate change,” Glick says in his dissent, which is attached to Ferc’s approval. “Neither the NGA nor NEPA permit the commission to assume away the climate change implications of constructing and operating this pipeline project. Yet that is precisely what the commission is doing here.”

Glick registered essentially the same dissent in Ferc’s approval earlier this week of Kinder Morgan’s Gulf LNG project in Mississippi. And commissioner Cheryl LaFleur voiced similar complaints in both approvals, but in both cases concurred with rather than dissented from the commission’s decision.

In approving the Willis Lateral Project, Glick said, the commission treats greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions differently than other environmental impacts. It quantifies the project’s GHG emissions, but refuses to assess the significance of the impact of those emissions and concludes that the project will have no significant environmental impact.

“That is the equivalent of concluding that an action known to be dangerous is actually safe because the majority claims not to know exactly how dangerous it is,” Glick says in his dissent. “In addition to being ludicrous, that reasoning fails to give climate change the serious consideration it deserves and that the law demands.”