WASHINGTON – On Friday, oral arguments will be heard in a DC Circuit Court case that could have serious ramifications for how the Biden administration might assess natural gas pipelines and related fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
The hearing is linked to a lawsuit filed last April, Food & Water Watch and Berkshire Environmental Action Team v Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The groups charge that the national body that permits new gas infrastructure projects has failed to consider the climate impacts of those reviews.
FERC, which oversees all interstate gas projects, has been flouting court orders for almost four years, following a D.C. Circuit decision requiring them to meaningfully consider the ‘downstream’ greenhouse gas emissions of pipeline projects — essentially the combustion activities associated with the gas facilitated by these pipelines.
The case concerns the 261 Upgrade Project in western Massachusetts, which consists of 2.1 miles of new pipeline and an 11,107 horsepower compressor station near Springfield, Mass.
In his dissent in the FERC vote on the project, Commissioner Richard Glick pointed out that “claiming that a project has no significant environmental impacts while at the same time refusing to assess the significance of the project’s impact on the most important environmental issue of our time is not reasoned decision-making.” Glick is now chairman of the commission.