DC Court of Appeals Legislates New Law re FERC & Global Warming

Yesterday the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in a case that may have long-term, very negative consequences for the oil and gas industry related to pipeline development. The profoundly litigious (and anti-fossil fuel) radicals of the Sierra Club previously filed a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) blaming FERC for not considering mythical man-made global warming as it conducted a review of three pipelines in the southeast. The Southeast Market Pipelines Project is an umbrella project for three natural gas pipelines in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The linchpin of the project is the Sabal Trail pipeline, which travels from Tallapoosa County in eastern Alabama, across southwestern Georgia, and down to Osceola County, Florida, just south of Orlando (nearly 500 miles). Sabal Trail will connect with two other pipelines. The first is the Hillabee Expansion, which will boost the capacity of an existing pipeline in Alabama and feed gas to Sabal Trail’s upstream end for transport to Florida. The downstream end of Sabal Trail connects to the Florida Southeast Connection, linking to a power plant in Martin County, Florida, 120 miles away. MDN has covered Sabal Trail and the Hillabee Expansion because of its potential to flow Marcellus/Utica gas all the way to Florida (see Williams Hillabee Project Goes Online, NatGas Flowing to Florida). The Sierra Club nutters said the three projects together didn’t take into consideration an increase in carbon and methane that would result from the three projects getting approved, and that said carbon and methane will contribute to (don’t laugh) global warming. The D.C. Court of Appeals agreed (copy of the decision below) and has instructed FERC to reconsider its environmental assessment of the three projects–vacating an approval of the main part of the project, the Sabal Trail pipeline. Just one teeny tiny problem (for the nutters), all three pipelines–Sabal Trail, Hillabee Expansion and Florida Southeast Connection–are up and running. While the radicals hope the three will now be shut down, that’s unlikely to happen. Frankly, it’s all a mess at this point with respect to those specific pipelines and their future. The larger consideration coming from this court decision, however, is for projects not yet FERC approved, including (according to the Sierra Club) the PennEast Pipeline, which they sincerely hope FERC will now not approve…

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