From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
PIPELINE INFRASTRUCTURE TO GET MORE ENVIRONMENTAL SCRUTINY: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted yesterday in a party-line vote to begin considering how proposed gas infrastructure projects could affect climate change, as well as how they would impact local communities especially subject to pollution, as it weighs whether such projects are in the public interest.
A fact sheet put out by the commission explains, “The more interests adversely affected, or the more adverse impact a project will have on a particular interest, the greater the showing of public benefits from the project must be to balance the adverse impact.”
The policies reflect Democrats’ broader philosophical support for using regulatory authority to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change, as well as their emphasis on compensating for the impacts of pollution on minorities.
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone said the commission’s votes “are a significant step towards protecting the property rights of private landowners and ensure that environmental justice communities are treated fairly and equitably in the pipeline certification process.”
Meanwhile, critics complained the decisions were outside of FERC’s scope as regulator of interstate energy infrastructure.
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said the commission “went too far by prioritizing a political agenda over their main mission — ensuring our nation’s energy reliability and security.”
The industry view: As part of the commission’s new “interim greenhouse gas emissions policy statement,” any project expected to emit 100,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions per year “will be deemed to have a significant impact on climate change.”
Such requirements “add additional uncertainty to the already complex natural gas pipeline permitting process,” said Interstate Natural Gas Association of America President and CEO Amy Andryszak.
Pending and future projects are subject to the updated policy statements.
Spire update: The commission also decided yesterday to keep in place the temporary certificate it issued in December allowing operators of the Illinois-Missouri Spire STL Pipeline to keep the pipeline up and running. Commissioners were forced to reconsider the pipeline’s operating certificate after a court vacated and remanded it last summer.