Focus on Climate To Shape Federal Permitting for Gas Project Developers
Developers of gas infrastructure projects and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are under increasing pressure to consider how projects will affect the Earth’s climate, and industry observers expect this to have lasting changes to the permitting process.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House have placed their weight behind environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and many others that have called attention to the emissions of methane and carbon dioxide from the production, transportation, and use of fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.
The EPA has prodded FERC to make changes in its review process to provide more detail in the calculation of the climate impacts of individual natural gas projects such as pipelines and liquefied natural gas export terminals, including evaluating the emissions of greenhouse gases from production and consumption of gas upstream and downstream from the projects. The EPA has cited draft climate guidance from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which would ask federal agencies to do more to evaluate climate impacts.
Casey O’Shea, an energy industry advisor at FTI Consulting focused on gas projects and infrastructure, said the EPA push has combined with other forces to put pressure on FERC.
“I think this is going to be an important issue, not just for the LNG industry, but for infrastructure projects of any kind, writ large,” O’Shea said. “You combine this with the effect the CEQ draft guidance is already having on agencies and the pending outcome of the D.C. Circuit [decision] on Sierra v. Freeport … and you have an interesting confluence of events that could shape the playing field in the US for project developers for a long time to come.”