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Commissioner Richard Glick Statement
June 12, 2018
Docket No. CP15-77-001

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Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C.

“In today’s order, the Commission again concludes that it need not consider the impact that new pipeline facilities have on climate change.1 Because I do not believe the Commission can find that the Broad Run Expansion Project is in the public interest without first determining the significance of this impact, I dissent in part from today’s order.

“Mirroring its recent decision in Dominion Transmission, Inc.,2 the Commission concludes that the Natural Gas Act3 (NGA) and the National Environmental Policy Act4 (NEPA) do not require the Commission to consider the significance of greenhouse gas emissions from the production or consumption of natural gas that are the reasonably foreseeable result of the Commission’s certification decisions. To support this conclusion, the Commission adopts an untenably narrow definition of indirect effects, one that refuses to recognize the essential role that interstate pipelines have in facilitating natural gas consumption and production.5 Applying this definition, the Commission argues that the Broad Run Expansion Project will have no identifiable effect on natural gas production or consumption and that asking for information about these potential effects “would be an exercise in futility.”6

“I disagree that it is futile for the Commission to seek to determine the extent to which a proposed pipeline expansion might contribute to the existential threat that climate change poses. As I explained in my partial dissent in New Market, “the determination of what environmental effects must be considered under NEPA should turn on a record-by-record inquiry of what effects are reasonably foreseeable, not on generic pronouncements divorced from the facts of any specific case.”7 In deeming an entire category of potential consequences not reasonably foreseeable and any inquiry into the matter an “exercise in futility,” the Commission excuses itself from making any effort to develop that record in the first place. That falls short of our obligations under NEPA and the NGA to make our “best efforts” to identify the consequences that our decisions will have for communities, individuals, and the environment.8

“In addition, as I explained in my dissent in Sabal Trail, NEPA and the NGA’s public interest standard require the Commission to consider the harm resulting from greenhouse gas emissions caused by a new pipeline.9 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. This includes considering the results produced by readily available tools, such as the Social Cost of Carbon, which translates the long-term damage done by a ton of carbon dioxide into a monetary value, thereby providing a meaningful and informative approach for satisfying an agency’s obligation to consider how its actions contribute to the harm caused by climate change.

“For these reasons, I respectfully dissent in part.”





                                               

    1 Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., L.L.C., 163 FERC ¶ 61,190, at PP 59–62 (2018).
    2 Dominion Transmission, Inc., 163 FERC ¶ 61,128 (2018) (New Market).
    3 15 U.S.C. 717f (2012).
    4 National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Pub. L. No. 91–190, 83 Stat. 852.
    5 Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., L.L.C., 163 FERC ¶ 61,190 at PP 59, 62.
    6 Id. P 60.
    7 New Market, 163 FERC ¶ 61,128 at 4 (Glick, Comm’r, dissenting in part).
    8 Id. at 3-5 (Glick, Comm’r, dissenting in part) (citing Barnes v. Dep’t of Transp., 655 F.3d 1124, 1136 (9th Cir. 2011)).
    9 See Florida Southeast Connection, LLC, 162 FERC ¶ 61,233, at 5 (2018) (Glick, Comm’r, dissenting) (citing cases that discuss the Social Cost of Carbon when evaluating whether an agency complied with its obligation under NEPA to evaluate the climate change impacts of its decisions).
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