Regulators Conduct First Court-Ordered Analysis On Effect Pipelines Have On Climate

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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The governmental agency that approves the construction of energy pipelines conducted its first analysis determining the degree to which a project might affect climate change.

Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conducted a greenhouse gas assessment Wednesday on power plants in Florida that accept fuel from the Southeast Market Pipelines Project. The analysis satisfies a court requirement that an assessment be conducted before the project is approved.

FERC can decide to appeal the D.C. Circuit court of appeals’ Aug. 22 ruling, but the fact that the agency already ran an assessment indicates an appeal before October is unlikely. The project would theoretically increase Florida’s greenhouse gas emissions between 3.7 percent and 9.7 percent compared to earlier years, the analysis found.

The D.C. Circuit rejected most of the arguments from environmental group Sierra Club in August against FERC’s decision to approve construction on three natural gas pipelines, including the Southeast Market Pipelines Project, that would serve customers in the southeast. But the court did determine the agency had an obligation to make greenhouse gas emission assessments on the projects they regulate.

Judge Brown, who dissented in the case, argued that Court of Appeals’ decision was inconsistent with a Supreme Court ruling in 2004 showing that FERC had no legal authority to weigh in on this matter.

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