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Greens File for Nexus Rehearing, Again Cite Sabal Trail Ruling

A coalition of environmental groups led by the Sierra Club filed a rehearing request Thursday challenging FERC's recent certificate approving the Nexus Gas Transmission natural gas pipeline and related projects.

The Sierra Club told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that its review of Nexus, culminating in an Aug. 25 certificate issued to the project, failed to properly evaluate public need, consider alternatives or examine the pipeline's impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The request for rehearing comes amid a wave of filings from anti-pipeline groups aimed at halting major greenfield natural gas projects currently under FERC review.

The Sierra Club's arguments Thursday echoed complaints leveled earlier this month by groups seeking to prevent FERC from issuing certificates to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.

Also this month, the Sierra Club tried to get FERC to hold off on allowing the certificated Atlantic Sunrise pipeline expansion to move forward with construction.

The green group has been actively trying to build off its recent legal success, frequently citing an Aug. 22 appeals court ruling that invalidated FERC's environmental review for the Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline and two other related Southeast pipeline expansions.

In Thursday's filing, attorneys writing on behalf of the Sierra Club repeatedly compared FERC's Nexus review to the Sabal Trail review struck down by the courts last month.

In the Sabal Trail ruling, the appeals court found fault in FERC's analysis of GHG emissions from the pipelines, and the lawyers consequently took aim Thursday at the scope of the Commission’s GHG emissions analysis in its Nexus review.

"It is reasonably foreseeable, just as it was in Sabal Trail, that the majority of the gas shipped on the Nexus pipeline will be for combustion in either a gas-fired power plant or as a source for heat...The fact that the gas will travel through other pipelines to its igneous fate does not remove the ultimate destination from the scope of FERC's" National Environmental Policy Act review, the attorneys wrote.

"Indeed, whether an effect is reasonably foreseeable is not measured by FERC's ability to grasp the obvious."

The 255-mile, 1.5 Bcf/d Nexus is backed by Enbridge Inc. and DTE Energy Co. Following a similar route to the 3.25 Bcf/d Rover Pipeline, Nexus is designed to deliver Marcellus and Utica shale gas from east Ohio to markets in the Midwest and Canada.

Nexus received a key water quality permit earlier this week from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The project is scheduled to enter service in 2018.

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