FERC’s Rapid Response in Sabal Trail Case Shuts Down Sierra Club

In August the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in a case that (we previously thought) may have long-term, very negative consequences for the oil and gas industry related to pipeline development (see DC Court of Appeals Legislates New Law re FERC & Global Warming). The litigious, 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 (SMP) 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). The Sierra Club said the three projects together didn’t take into consideration an increase in carbon and methane that would result from the three projects serving electric generating plants, and that said carbon and methane will contribute to global warming. The D.C. Court of Appeals agreed and 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. In a brilliant move, last week FERC filed a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to fulfill the court’s order. In it, FERC looks at the potential for extra carbon/methane in the atmosphere from several electric generating plants fed by the SMP pipelines. As for evaluating the overall effect on Mom Earth, FERC said there currently is no accurate method available that can do it. In other words, this lawsuit that the Clubbers so fervently thought would lead to stopping all sorts of projects just fizzled out (we can’t be happier) thanks to FERC’s quick action. FERC has effectively shut down the Sierra Club’s best chance of stopping pipeline projects…

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