Court Rules FERC Failed to Consider Emissions From Agawam Compressor Station

Commission ordered to reissue environmental assessment of controversial gas project

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Climate and Energy

The DC Circuit Court issued a ruling today in an important case challenging the approval of a compressor station in Massachusetts. The decision found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) failed to adequately assess the indirect greenhouse gas emissions linked to the 261 Upgrade Project outside of Springfield, Massachusetts, and the court ordered FERC to redo its environmental assessment to fully account for downstream emissions.

The lawsuit, Food & Water Watch and Berkshire Environmental Action Team v FERC, charged that the federal regulator that permits new gas infrastructure projects had failed to consider the climate impacts of the Agawam  Compressor Station and associated pipeline. FERC has been flouting a D.C. Circuit precedent requiring it to meaningfully consider the reasonably foreseeable ‘downstream’ greenhouse gas emissions of gas infrastructure projects — essentially the combustion of the gas transported by these pipelines and compressor stations – for nearly five years. This decision confirms that FERC must review downstream emissions even when gas is moved to local distribution companies for residential and commercial use, an issue long ignored by FERC.

The decision comes at a critical time for FERC, which recently approved policy statements that provide guidance for how the commission will consider pending and future gas infrastructure projects.

In response to the ruling, Food & Water Watch staff attorney Adam Carlesco issued the following statement: 

“This decision confirms that FERC has a legal responsibility to properly evaluate the downstream emissions linked to compressor station upgrades and the local distribution of gas. These projects create acute pollution impacts for nearby residents and contribute to the climate pollution that is fueling our global climate crisis. FERC must take these responsibilities seriously, and enact a greenhouse gas emissions policy that meaningfully addresses the glaring problems in the Commission’s track record up to this point.”