WorldWide Drilling Resource

47 APRIL 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® The FERC Policy Shift? Compiled the Editorial Staff of WorldWide Drilling Resource® The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent panel that reviews interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil, has for the first time, weighed the effect of a pipeline project’s carbon emissions. In prior years, FERC performed an environmental review which did not include assessing how these emissions might contribute to climate change. In an apparent walkback of that policy, FERC’s new certificate issuance considerations might have significant implicatons for natural gas permitting decisions. The change in considerations came with a change in leadership of the commission when Richard Glick was promoted to chairman of FERC. Former chairman, Neil Chatterjee, was opposed to the new certificate consideration, but changed his mind on the vote, compromising with the new chairman to get a small project approved. Glick believed FERC had been ignoring a most urgent environmental issue when assessing a project’s costs and benefits. “Going forward, we are committed to treating greenhouse gas emissions and their contribution to climate change the same as all other environmental impacts we consider,” Glick said. He added, “Analyzing the impacts of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t automatically doom the project.” According to Chatterjee, Chairman Glick promised he was not against all natural gas infrastructure. The project only involved the replacement of a currently operating pipeline, not building a new one. When it came to a vote, three of the five commission members voted to approve the replacement of more than 80 miles of a natural gas pipeline operated by Northern Natural Gas between South Sioux City, Nebraska, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. When approving the project, commissioners determined emissions associated with the project would meet those guidelines. Glick said he felt confident the project would not contribute significantly to climate change, considering the Northern Natural Gas project was replacing old piping for which FERC had previously determined there weren’t downstream emissions. Until FERC implements an overarching policy on projects’ greenhouse gas emission, Glick said the agency will assess them on a case-by-case basis. For now, it remains to be seen whether the commission will make major changes to its decision-making process for the certification of new interstate pipeline infrastructure, or whether reforms will be more modest. G&O Natural gas pipeline systems - from the wellhead to the consumer.