US Firms Want Pending Natgas Pipeline Projects Excluded from Emissions Rules

(Reuters) — Energy firms said they do not want U.S. federal energy regulators to apply new greenhouse gas emission guidelines to currently pending gas pipeline applications.

In February, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) modified its policies to determine whether to approve permits for new gas pipelines to include greenhouse gas emissions, a move analysts said would present hurdles for new energy projects.

The greenhouse gas policy requires any project that would result in 100,000 metric tons per year of greenhouse gas emissions must complete an environmental impact statement, which analysts said was an expensive and time-consuming process. 

While the FERC rules have not been finalized, energy data and analytics firm Enverus said in a note on Tuesday that the interim greenhouse gas policy was in place.

The FERC, which has increased its focus on controlling greenhouse gas emissions since U.S. President Joe Biden took office, has said the changes would apply to all new and currently pending gas pipeline applications.

In response, U.S. energy companies Kinder Morgan Inc. and Boardwalk Pipeline jointly submitted a letter on March 14 asking FERC to not apply the new review to currently pending projects.

Other energy firms have since supported Kinder/Boardwalk's motion asking FERC to reconsider the regulator's position.

"Retroactively applying new standards to currently pending applications violates basic tenets of fairness and due process - especially since the Interim Policy Statements are moving targets that almost certainly will change," Kinder and Boardwalk said in their filing.

Kinder and Boardwalk said FERC's policy would cause developers and investors to delay decisions on new projects at exactly the wrong moment "as war rages in Europe and our allies seek energy security" after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Energy companies were not the only ones upset about the new FERC guidelines.

Earlier in March, top U.S. senators from both parties grilled Democratic FERC commissioners for approving the new guidelines, which prompt regulators to consider more environmental, landowner and climate issues when considering new pipelines. 

The two Republican Commissioners at FERC opposed the new guidelines. 

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