Joint Statement of Commissioner Mark C. Christie and Commissioner Willie P. Phillips
Docket Nos. CP20-50-000, et. al.
C-2C-3 and C-4

PHILLIPS and CHRISTIE, Commissioners, concurring:

We concur in the issuance of today’s order granting authorizations under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act (NGA).  We agree the public convenience and necessity requires approval and enter essentially the same concurrence in this case as in two other certificate cases that the Commission approves today.[1]  

We write separately to explain why we depart from Northern Natural, where the Commission stated that emissions for a project were not significant.[2]  In Northern Natural, the Commission disclosed the yearly emissions volumes and the estimated contribution to national and state emissions estimates, and then stated that, based on this record, that the emissions were not significant.[3]  It is not clear how this determination was made or how a finding of “significance” would have affected our duties and authority under the Natural Gas Act. 

In this case, we assessed the project emissions in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),[4] but do not have an analytical tool or framework to estimate the extent of those emission impacts’ on the environment.  At this time, neither the Council on Environmental Quality, the entity charged with issuing NEPA guidance, nor any other federal agency has established a threshold for what constitutes a “significant” GHG contribution from an individual project.  We should continue to provide as much detail as possible in accordance with our NEPA requirements, but to the extent we make a determination that GHG impacts are significant or not – and an undue focus on drawing a bright line between “significance” and “insignificance” would appear to elevate form over substance -- we would like to identify the factors considered or otherwise explain our determination. 

For these reasons, we respectfully concur.



[1] Tenn. Gas Pipe Line Co., L.L.C., 178 FERC ¶ 61,199 (2022); Iroquois Gas Transmission Sys., L.P., 178 FERC ¶ 61,200 (2022).

[2] See N. Nat. Gas Co., 174 FERC ¶ 61,189 (2021). 

[3] Id. at PP 34 - 36.

[4] See WildEarth Guardians v. Jewell, 738 F.3d 298, 309 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (“Because current science does not allow for the specificity demanded by Appellants, the [agency] was not required to identify specific effects on the climate in order to prepare an adequate EIS.”).

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