The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Gulf South Pipeline Co. LP's 200,000-Dth/d expansion project for a natural gas pipeline to a Louisiana power plant, but the case spurred a dissenting commissioner to call on FERC to more fully assess projects' greenhouse gas impacts.
The commission issued a certificate order May 17 for the Boardwalk Pipelines LP affiliate's Westlake expansion in Calcasieu Parish, La. The $56.2 million project is designed to provide firm transportation capacity for the Lake Charles Power Station, Entergy Louisiana LLC's planned 994-MW gas-fired, combined-cycle electric generation plant. FERC Commissioner Richard Glick voted against the approval over concerns of downstream greenhouse gas emissions.
The commission — except for dissenting vote Richard Glick and Chairman Kevin McIntyre, who recused himself — determined that the Westlake expansion will serve the public interest. Agreeing with FERC staff's positive environmental review on Feb. 27, the commissioners said the project, with specific mitigation measures, will not have adverse effects on customers or other pipelines and will have minimal effects on landowners or surrounding communities.
Glick said in his dissent that FERC ignored staff's conclusion in the environmental assessment that it could not determine the project emissions' contribution to climate change. "We are refusing to assess the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the proposed pipeline project," Glick said during the commission's monthly meeting May 17.
Glick also said he was concerned that the authorization would offer pipeline opponents another win in the courts, similar to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's decision in August 2017 to vacate FERC's project approval of a Southeast Market Pipeline project. The decision forced the commission to take a closer look at downstream emissions in a supplemental environmental impact statement before approving the project anew. "In my opinion, by refusing to consider the significance of the associated [emissions], we are increasing the risk [that] the courts will vacate and send our orders back to the commission again, so we'll have to see how this develops," Glick said.
The Westlake expansion would deliver gas supplies to the Entergy Corp. unit's power plant for an initial term of 20 years. The project will consist of a 10,000-horsepower Westlake compressor station, less than a mile of 16-inch-diameter pipeline, a delivery meter station and a new receipt meter station.
Gulf South submitted an abbreviated application for the project in July 2017. The developer asked FERC to approve the project by May 15, which would allow construction to begin in the fall and start service by Aug. 1, 2019. (FERC docket CP17-476)