Nearly 13B cubic feet of new natural gas capacity in the U.S. may be subject to new policy changes by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will now increase emphasis on the environmental impacts of proposed pipeline projects, Bloomberg reports.
In the regulator’s first policy update since 1999, FERC voted Thursday along party lines to begin considering how proposed gas projects could affect climate change, how they would affect local communities seen as most subject to pollution, and whether such projects are even in the public interest; any project expected to emit 100K metric tons/year of CO2 equivalent emissions “will be deemed to have a significant impact on climate change.”
The new standards will apply to pending and future projects, including Equitrans Midstream’s (NYSE:ETRN) Mountain Valley Pipeline and gas pipelines attached to Tellurian’s (NYSE:TELL) proposed Driftwood LNG terminal.
Also affected: Kinder Morgan’s (NYSE:KMI) Evangeline Pass pipeline expansion, expected to supply an additional 2B cf/day of gas from Louisiana, Williams’ (NYSE:WMB) Regional Energy Access Project, which aims to increase Northeast flows by 1B cf/day, and planned expansions by Enbridge (NYSE:ENB) and TC Energy (NYSE:TRP).
The commission decided to keep in place the temporary certificate it issued in December allowing the Spire STL Pipeline (NYSE:SR) to keep the pipeline up and running.
FERC Chairman Richard Glick said the policy changes will provide more clarity to pipeline developers on how the commission will balance the need to expand affordable natural gas to customers against environmental interests.
Interstate Natural Gas Association of America President and CEO Amy Andryszak said the new requirements will “add additional uncertainty to the already complex natural gas pipeline permitting process” and could cause “significant delays for much-needed infrastructure.”
Some of the projects already are facing serious legal challenges; two weeks ago, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated for a second time the U.S. government’s previous approval of construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Read More: FERC sets rules that could hamper new natural gas pipelines, industry says (NYSE:ETRN)