In separate filings Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) joined Spectra Energy Partners LP in asking FERC to extend the comment period for changes to its Guidance Manual for Environmental Report Preparation.
Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a draft update to its 238-page manual, which guides applicants seeking project approval under the Natural Gas Act (see Daily GPI, Dec. 29, 2015). Specifically, the manual -- which was last updated in 2002 -- guides applicants through the process of supplying the Commission with the information it needs to conduct any project reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
FERC originally set a Jan. 19 deadline for accepting comments on the proposed changes [AD16-3], but API, INGAA and Spectra all said the industry needs more time. Spectra and INGAA each asked for a 30-day extension (to Feb. 18), while API asked for a 60-day extension (March 19). Spectra filed its request for a 30-day extension on Jan. 8.
In INGAA's filing, attorney Joan Dreskin said the updated manual "contains significant changes from the 2002 version...The lack of a redlined version to indicate the exact language changes or a preamble that highlights the areas of changes and the rationale for such changes further makes the review and analysis of the document more time-consuming."
API attorney John Wagner added that the 30-day comment deadline originally set by FERC was "an unreasonably short amount of time for the industry to gather the necessary information and formulate the best possible input to FERC.
"An additional 60 days of time for comment development would allow API and other interested parties to collect the most comprehensive and useful information to provide to FERC, which will in turn enable your agency to formulate the best possible guidance to help further streamline the environmental review process."
The updates to the manual coincide with what FERC commissioners have described as a period of "heightened infrastructure opposition," which was probably brought about through an increase in interstate natural gas pipeline project applications (see Daily GPI, Dec. 1, 2015).
Last October, a coalition of environmental groups and pipeline opponents urged FERC to conduct a regional, programmatic review of all the recently proposed projects in the Appalachian region to assess the projects’ cumulative impacts (see Shale Daily, Nov. 2, 2015).