Four natural gas pipeline projects were approved by FERC Thursday, but Commissioners continued their struggle to find common ground on their role in determining each project's potential effects on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Projects authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission included Eastern Shore Natural Gas Co.'s proposed Del-Mar Energy Pathway project in Delaware and Maryland [CP18-548], Dominion Energy Transmission's proposed West Loop Project in Pennsylvania and Ohio [CP19-26], the Adelphia Gateway project, which would add facilities to a pipeline near Philadelphia [CP18-46], and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.'s 261 Upgrade project, which would add 72.4 MMcf/d of additional transportation capacity in Massachusetts [CP19-7].
The projects were approved by 2-1 votes, with Neil Chatterjee and Bernard McNamee voting in favor and Richard Glick opposing in each case.
According to Glick, the decisions are another example of FERC "not following the instructions of the courts… in terms of our obligation to examine the significance of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the projects, including reasonably foreseeable downstream emissions." Glick argues that FERC doesn't consider the significance of GHG emissions when reviewing project applications.
McNamee, on the other hand, said the Natural Gas Act does not give FERC authority to deny applications based on possible downstream emissions or upstream development of natural gas. The analysis must be based instead on "the specific emissions from the generation facilities that take place, which are the downstream emissions from the natural gas pipeline to the facility."
Two replacement projects -- Texas Eastern Transmission's Bernville Compressor Units Replacement project in Pennsylvania [CP19-191] and Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline's Line DT and DS Replacement project in Kansas [CP19-31] -- were approved Thursday by 3-0 votes.
"In both cases we're talking about facility upgrades where there's no incremental greenhouse gas emissions associated with the operation of the project or downstream emissions associated with the project, so it's pretty simple to do the math," Glick said. "All we have to do is assess the significance. That's what the courts are telling us to do."
Traditionally a five-member panel, FERC continues to operate with only three commissioners four months after Cheryl LaFleur stepped down and nearly a full year after the death of former Chairman Kevin J. McIntyre.
James Danly, who is general counsel of FERC, was nominated by President Trump in October to fill one of the two vacant seats at the Commission, and his nomination was voted out of committee last month, but the Senate has yet to vote on his confirmation.
FERC currently has two Republican members -- Chatterjee and McNamee -- and one Democrat, Glick. McNamee's term expires next year; Chatterjee's in 2021; and Glick's in 2022. By law, no more than three seats at FERC may be held by one political party.