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Groups attack Southeast Market Pipelines authorization on climate impacts

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Groups attack Southeast Market Pipelines authorization on climate impacts

Three environmental groups are challenging in federal courtthe FERC approval of the giant 1.1-Bcf/d Southeast Market Pipelines natural gasproject, already under construction in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Sierra Club, Flint Riverkeeper and ChattahoocheeRiverkeeper, groups that participated in the FERC review of the project, fileda Sept. 21 petition for review of the FERC decision in the U.S. Court ofAppeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The environmental groupschallenged the order granting authorization for the project to ,Transcontinental Gas Pipe LineCo. LLC and FloridaSoutheast Connection LLC. The groups also challenged the orderdenying their request for rehearing.

The groups said in a statement that FERC had failed toanalyze climate impacts of the project and the power plants it would serve andthe commission had failed to consider alternate routes with fewer environmentaland community impacts. They pointed to recent guidance on climate impacts forfederal agencies released by the White House's Council on Environmental Quality.

"In order to avert the worst impacts of climate change,it's essential that FERC does its job and fully considers climate impactsbefore approving any new gas pipelines like Sabal Trail," Sierra Clubmanaging attorney Eric Huber said in the statement.

On Sept. 23, the court ordered the groups to finish filingmotions, statement of issues and other initial documents by Nov. 7.

A spokeswoman for the Southeast Market Pipelines projectsaid the developers are confident the court will respect a thorough projectreview by federal and state agencies. Andrea Grover, Sabal Trail director ofstakeholder outreach, said in a Sept. 26 email that construction across theproject began on Aug. 19 with the goal of having its first phase in service byearly summer 2017.

FERC authorizedthe components of the Southeast Market Pipelines project in February. Thecomponents are anchored by the approximately $3.2 billion, 516-mile Sabal Trailpipeline. Sabal Trail is a joint venture of Spectra Energy Partners LP, and

The other components include the approximately $459.8million Hillabee expansion project on WilliamsPartners LP's Transco system and the approximately $537.3 millionFlorida Southeast Connection project of NextEra Energy's Florida SoutheastConnection LLC. Together, the projects will bring gas from Alabama throughGeorgia and deep into Florida to serve power generators and other customers.(U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit No. 16-1329)

In August, Sierra Club, Gulf Restoration Network and FlintRiverkeeper sued theU.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 11th Circuit over Clean Water Act permitsfor the project.