By Kaci W. Poor, Associate Attorney
Just over one month ago, on February 18, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued sweeping policy changes to its certificate review process for new natural gas transportation facilities (“Updated Certificate Policy Statement” ), including an interim policy statement for the consideration of greenhouse gases (“Interim GHG Policy Statement”). After receiving significant criticism from industry and Congress, however, the Commission is pressing pause on the updates pending further feedback.
By a unanimous vote at the open Commission meeting on Thursday, March 24, 2022, the Commission designated both the Updated Certificate Policy Statement and Interim GHG Policy Statement as drafts open for public comment. The Commission further clarified that neither policy statement will apply to pending project applications nor filed applications until the Commission issues final guidance in these dockets (PL18-1, PL21-3).
There is no question that the energy industry is in a state of flux. An update is needed to create a more legally durable framework to ensure Commission decisions approving pipeline projects are capable of surviving review and ultimately being built. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has issued several recent opinions critical of the Commission’s natural gas project siting and approval process, focusing in particular on the Commission’s review of greenhouse gas emissions.
At the same time, the Commission’s recent efforts at policy change have missed that mark. Indeed, the primary criticism lobbed against the Commission’s recent action has been that – rather than clarify the review process – the statements only added another layer of uncertainty to an industry already stymied by a shifting legal and regulatory landscape. With another bite at the apple, it is therefore critical that interested individuals weigh in to ensure a sound policy decision is reached.
Comments on the draft policy statements are due April 25, 2022, and reply comments are due May 25, 2022.
Floom Energy Law PLLC provides strategic counsel on all aspects of the natural gas and oil industry, including natural gas pipeline certification applications, cost-of-service filings, ratemaking issues, and pipeline tariff filings. If you are interested in additional information regarding the Commission’s Updated Certificate Policy Statement and Interim GHG Policy Statement and their impact on your business, or if you would like to discuss filing comments, please contact John Paul Floom.