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FERC Designates Pipeline Certificate, GHG Emissions Policy Statements As Drafts

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 24 voted to seek additional comments on two policy statements it issued in February that provide guidance regarding the certification of interstate natural gas pipelines and consideration of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in natural gas project reviews. 

FERC last month issued an update to its 1999 Certificate Policy Statement and also issued an interim policy statement focused on the Commission’s assessment of the impact of a project’s GHG emissions. FERC had originally called for comments on the interim policy statement on GHG emissions by April 4, but the agency did not provide for further comments on the updated certificate policy statement.

After further consideration, the Commission at its March open meeting designated both documents as draft policy statements on which the Commission is seeking further public comment.

The two draft policy statements will not apply to pending project applications or filed applications before the Commission issues any final guidance in these dockets.

FERC Chairman Richard Glick noted in a statement that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has on several occasions, including as recently as March 11, “cast significant doubt about the approach the Commission has been taking to site natural gas pipelines and LNG facilities. The policy statements were intended to provide a more legally durable framework for the Commission to consider proposed natural gas projects.”

However, 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 added.     

He confirmed that FERC will process pending gas certificate applications under the Commission’s longstanding 1999 policy statement, as further interpreted by FERC and judicial precedent. Glick also highlighted a number of gas infrastructure projects approved at the March 24 FERC meeting.

Glick also said at the meeting that “the policy statements, when they are finalized, will apply only to subsequently filed applications for pipeline and LNG facility approval.”

Comments on the policy statements are due by April 25, 2022, with reply comments due May 25, 2022.

All five FERC Commissioners earlier this month testified before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to review recent actions of FERC relating to permitting construction and operation of interstate natural gas pipelines and other natural gas infrastructure projects.

Click here for FERC’s order on the draft policy statements.