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Sierra Club takes aim at Sabal Trail lateral

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Sierra Club takes aim at Sabal Trail lateral

The Sierra Club is fighting Sabal Trail Transmission LLC's plan to place in service a natural gas lateral for a combined-cycle power plant in Florida, contending that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has yet to fully respond to a court decision striking down the certificate order for the pipeline project.

Enbridge Inc.-led Sabal Trail on Oct. 12 asked FERC for permission to start service on a part of its 1.1-Bcf/d, 515-mile project: the Citrus County Line, a 21.5-mile lateral pipeline and meter station that would serve Duke Energy Florida LLC's Citrus County CC plant.

The pipeline company told FERC that it must provide service to the plant in October so the facility can be tested and brought online by the planned in-service date. According to Duke Energy's website, the plant's first 820 MW is expected to come online in mid-2018 and the second 820 MW by December 2018. (FERC docket CP15-17)

The Sierra Club, in an objection filed Friday, pointed to a Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision in August that found FERC's orders approving Sabal Trail and the other two segments of the Southeast Markets Pipelines project offered too little information on greenhouse gas emissions from downstream power plants. (U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit docket 16-1329)

"FERC has not yet prepared a conforming environmental impact statement, and the draft supplemental EIS that FERC rushed to issue in response to the court's decision is severely flawed," the Sierra Club said in the filing.

Once FERC prepares a final environmental impact statement, the agency will balance the public benefits against adverse effects, the Sierra Club said.

"Sabal Trail's request to place these facilities into service seeks to reduce National Environmental Policy Act compliance to a mere bureaucratic formality," the group said. It also argued that Sabal Trail's request to start service by Monday gave groups only one business day to respond.

The objection comes as FERC, along with pipeline and power companies, asked the D.C. Circuit for rehearing of the ruling, arguing the court should only have remanded, rather than vacated, the certificate orders, because of the disruption to pipeline and power service that would result. The requests for rehearing effectively put off the court's vacatur of the orders while the appeal is being considered.

FERC on September 27 published a draft supplemental EIS that added calculations of downstream emissions. Sabal Trail first began flowing gas June 14 and has received an average of 381 MMcf/d from Transcontinental Pipe Line Zone 4 Pool in Choctaw County, Ala., in the last 30 days, according to S&P Global Platts data.

Maya Weber is a reporter for S&P Global Platts, which, like S&P Global Market Intelligence, is owned by S&P Global Inc.