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Climate Change-Minded EPA Calls FERC on Greenhouse Gas Carpet

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told FERC on Tuesday it still is not satisfied with the "climate change analysis" behind the Commission's environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Leach Xpress and Rayne Xpress Expansion projects. The agency asked for a "headquarters level" meeting to straighten out disagreements over climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "considered and addressed" EPA concerns raised in its comments on the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the projects (see Daily GPIJune 15), the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) "...perpetuates the significant omission documented through our comments on the DEIS with respect to a proper climate change analysis to inform the decision-making process," EPA told FERC [CP15-514].

EPA cited the Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) recently issued final guidance on GHG emissions and how federal agencies should weigh these emissions in reviews conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (see Daily GPIAug. 2).

The guidance, EPA said, "...specifically uses end-use product combustion as an example of an indirect emission that should be calculated for each alternative considered.

"We view FERC's response to our comments as very concerning in light of CEQ's GHG guidance and request a headquarters-level meeting with us to seek a definitive resolution to this matter before you publish a record of decision (ROD) so that you do not continue to take this approach in additional NEPA documents."

Leach is a project of Columbia Gas Transmission LLC, and Rayne is a project of affiliate Columbia Gulf Transmission LLC. The projects were announced in 2014 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 12, 2014). Leach XPress would add 160 miles of pipeline and more compression in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to move up to 1.53 million Dth/d to markets outside of Appalachia. Rayne XPress is designed to expand capacity of Columbia Gulf's mainline to transport another 621,000 Dth/d of Appalachian gas to the Gulf Coast.

EPA also faulted the FEIS for not including a proposed wetland/stream mitigation plan, a migratory bird conservation plan, or documentation to support the FERC finding that the proposed Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline is not a viable alternative.

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