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FERC denies rehearing request on Tennessee Gas Pipeline expansion project

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FERC denies rehearing request on Tennessee Gas Pipeline expansion project

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied requests from environmental groups and other stakeholders to reconsider approval of a Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. expansion project that would boost the capacity of its pipeline system by 200,000 Dth/d.

In a June 12 ruling, FERC reaffirmed a public need for the Broad Run expansion project, which would provide transportation services for shipper Antero Resources Corp. in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. The commission also said it was not required to consider the project's potential downstream greenhouse gas emissions, which drew objections from Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick.

FERC authorized the project in 2016 and granted the Kinder Morgan Inc. subsidiary permission to start partial service activities at the project's compressor station in Madison County, Ky., in January.

The Allegheny Defense Project, Heartwood, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and four individual intervenors sought a rehearing of the 2016 certificate order, stating in their requests that the commission had failed to appropriately evaluate whether the project was required by public convenience and necessity, as required by federal statute. They also alleged that FERC did not follow guidance from the Council on Environmental Quality requiring federal agencies to consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change when evaluating proposed actions.

The majority of the commission said any potential increases in greenhouse gas emissions are not indirect impacts of the project, and FERC is not required to consider effects from upstream or downstream activities. "Companies will continue to negotiate for and find natural gas supplies; end-use consumption of natural gas will occur regardless of whether the project before us is approved," FERC said.

The commission also said that without a standard system for measuring impacts from greenhouse gas emissions, FERC could not determine if the emissions would significantly affect the environment.

Although Chairman Kevin McIntyre and Commissioners LaFleur, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson voted to deny a rehearing, LaFleur separately said she was concerned with the language used by the other commissioners and "ongoing disagreements" over FERC's environmental review process.

LaFleur said she strongly disagreed with the majority's decision "to ignore downstream emissions impacts" and calculated, using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency techniques, that the project would result in roughly 3.7 million tonnes per year or less of CO2 emissions.

"After balancing the economic need for the [project] and all of its environmental impact, I continue to believe that it is in the public interest," LaFleur said.

The sole dissenting voice on the commission, Glick, said he voted against the majority because of a lack of analysis of the project's environmental impacts. "I cannot support issuing a certificate where the commission has not made its best effort to consider a project's potential contribution to climate change," Glick said.

The project consists of a $338 million market component and a $68.5 million replacement component. (FERC docket CP15-77)