FERC commissioners dispute natural gas project approvals


On May 21, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied requests to reconsider the approval of two natural gas projects despite a commissioner’s concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and decreasing demand for natural gas. 

FERC approved the Jordan Cove LNG project and an associated gas pipeline after a contentious decision and issued a construction certificate for the Alaska LNG project. Commissioner Glick argued that his colleagues failed to evaluate the climate change impacts of gas projects, and commissioners ignored the decrease in demand of global energy due to COVID-19.

However, the FERC chairman asserted that natural gas facilities are long-term projects and FERC must continue to work so these projects are available in the future. He stated, “[w]e are following the law consistent with our obligations under the Natural Gas Act.” The chairman retorted that any changes to the approval process need to come from Congress not FERC.

A lawsuit was also filed, challenging FERC’s approval of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act and Natural Gas Act. According to Western Environmental Law Center, opponents argue that “FERC failed to consider critical information about the proposed facility and that it is not in the public best interest.”

Future companies should expect sharp division between the commissioners as tension has emerged in other policy moves made by FERC.

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