FERC Slows Consideration of Climate Impact of New Gas Projects

(P&GJ) — U.S. regulators voted on Thursday to seek comments on two policy statements it issued last month that provide guidance regarding the certification of interstate natural gas pipelines and consideration of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in natural gas project reviews.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Richard Glick said that two guidelines the panel approved last month to consider GHG, environmental justice and landowner issues before approving LNG terminals and other gas projects would now be considered "drafts", according to a Reuters report.

“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,” Glick said. 

In February, the Commission issued an update to its 1999 Certificate Policy Statement and issued an interim policy statement focused on the Commission’s assessment of the impact of a project’s GHG emissions.

The concern regarding the policies surrounded the lack of guidance from FERC on how to go about achieving the new benchmarks. In essence, the guidelines required that GHG and “environmental justice” be considered during the approval process for natural gas pipelines.

Following this amendment, President and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) Amy Andryszak released a statement in support of the reconsideration.

“INGAA is pleased that FERC heard the tremendous concerns expressed by natural gas customers and operators and took bipartisan, unanimous action to designate the two new certificate policy statements as draft rather than final statements, and to apply the revised policies only to project applications filed after the Commission finalizes the statements,” Andryszak said. “FERC’s decision to revisit the statements with additional comments will hopefully provide further clarity and predictability for a timely natural gas infrastructure certification process. Finally, we are encouraged that the commission voted to certificate three natural gas projects during todays’ meeting.”

Sharing that sentiment, Energy Workforce and Technology Council CEO Leslie Beyer also commented on FERC’s decision.

“We are pleased to see the actions taken today by FERC,” Beyer said. “In order to increase domestic gas production, we must encourage continued infrastructure investment. The Administration must signal support and encourage long-term investment in domestic oil and gas production and infrastructure and promote U.S. oil and natural gas technologies to allies overseas. The actions taken today by FERC is a step in the right direction.”

Under the new designation, the draft guidelines on projects will not apply to pending projects until FERC issues any final guidance, the panel said. Comments on the guidelines will be due by April 25, with reply comments due on May 25.

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