Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved policy statements that provide guidance for how the commission will consider pending and future gas infrastructure projects.
The agency, long derided as a rubber stamp for the fossil fuel industry, has been under pressure for years over its failure to adequately assess the climate impacts of interstate gas infrastructure projects it oversees. The rules echo the core issues addressed in a landmark lawsuit filed last April in the DC Circuit Court, Food & Water Watch and Berkshire Environmental Action Team v Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In that case, the groups argue that FERC has been flouting court orders requiring them to meaningfully assess the downstream emissions of gas pipeline projects.
In response to today’s news, Food & Water Watch Staff Attorney Adam Carlesco released the following statement:
“Today’s announcements suggest that FERC is finally moving towards creating policies that it should have enacted years ago. There is room for cautious optimism here – though, guidance is not the same thing as action, and we still need to see FERC make substantial improvements in its evaluation of fossil gas projects in practice. Climate science tells us that we cannot build new fossil fuel projects if we are to have a chance at averting real climate chaos. Let’s hope today’s statements on FERC’s future policy orders constitute a meaningful shift in our nation’s approach to permitting gas infrastructure. However, this policy can only move the needle so far without bold and necessary action from Congress, which should pass legislation that puts an end to the approval of new fossil gas pipelines.”