Technical Conference Sparks Debate Over FERC’s Legal Authority to Consider Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Pipeline Certification Review

On November 19, 2021, the Federal Vitality Regulatory Fee (“FERC” or “Commission”) convened a Employees-led technical convention to focus on strategies pure fuel firms could use to mitigate the results of direct and oblique greenhouse fuel (“GHG”) emissions ensuing from pipeline building and enlargement initiatives which might be topic to Pure Gas Act (“NGA”) sections 3 and seven authorizations by FERC (the “Conference”). The Conference included three-panel discussions:  1) The Degree of Mitigation for a Proposed Venture’s Fairly Foreseeable Greenhouse Gas Emissions; 2) Kinds of Mitigation; and three) Compliance and Value Restoration of Mitigation.

One of many threshold questions posed by the Commissioners, and a recurring theme all through the convention, was whether or not FERC has the authorized authority to take into account GHG emissions as a part of its certification course of. Chairman Richard Glick asserted that FERC has authority to mitigate GHG emissions and that doing so will present better certainty for the business, and expressed concern concerning FERC’s dealing with of the problem to date, given the flurry of latest choices from the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit discovering that FERC didn’t adequately assess emissions when figuring out the necessity for pipelines. Commissioner James Danly took the other place, emphasizing that the Environmental Safety Company (“EPA”), not FERC, is the suitable company to regulate environmental points.   The panelists additionally cut up on the query of FERC’s authority to mitigate GHG emissions, however usually supported the idea of FERC coordinating with different businesses, notably the EPA, to keep away from duplication of regulatory efforts with respect to GHG emissions.

A recurring concern raised by panelists was FERC’s skill to precisely quantify and observe GHG emissions. The inherent issue of quantifying GHG emissions triggered different discussions, together with how FERC would impose efficient mitigation measures, and guarantee compliance and simply and cheap price restoration. Some contributors requested the Fee to take into account the Social Value of Carbon in any GHG evaluation, explaining that FERC has expertise making use of technical methodologies on which there are differing skilled viewpoints. Nonetheless, different panelists critiqued the Social Value of Carbon metric as “imprecise.”

Panelists additionally addressed potential GHG mitigation measures, together with bodily mitigation measures resembling technology-based measures to cut back methane emissions, set up of renewable vitality sources to offset fuel utilization, use of mixed cycle or mixed warmth/energy programs on turbine compressor models, and carbon seize and storage, and market-mitigation measures, together with carbon offset purchases, renewable vitality credit, and emission allowances. Environmental stakeholders raised considerations concerning the sufficiency of carbon seize and storage as a bodily mitigation measure, expressing skepticism as to the sturdiness of carbon storage know-how over lengthy intervals of time. Nonetheless, business stakeholders expressed assist for the usage of carbon seize and storage as a mitigation software, explaining that know-how will proceed to advance and that such efforts are an vital piece of the general local weather effort. With respect to market mitigation measures, environmental stakeholders expressed disfavor of such measures, whereas business stakeholders supported offsets whereas acknowledging their limitations in producing vital reductions in GHG emissions alone.

Pursuant to the Discover Inviting Technical Conference Feedback, issued November 16, 2021, commenters are invited to submit post-technical convention feedback by December 14, 2021.

Source link