Landmark FERC pipeline challenge fails

An appellate court today tossed a lawsuit targeting a federal plan to significantly narrow climate analyses for natural gas infrastructure.

During oral arguments last month, judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seemed skeptical of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's defense of its drastic climate policy shift (Energywire, April 12).

But the case failed on the question of whether the plaintiff in the case, the small New York environmental nonprofit Otsego 2000, had standing to bring the challenge.

"Otsego's affidavits do not identify any injury other than the organization's expenditure of time and money related to this litigation," the court wrote in a short order today.

The lawsuit was born from FERC's refusal last year to rehear a challenge to Dominion Energy Transmission Inc.'s New Market Project, a set of gas infrastructure upgrades in upstate New York.

FERC's Republican majority used the procedural document to announce a seismic shift in its approach to analyzing and disclosing upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions from the projects the agency authorizes.

Democratic Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick penned pointed dissents, and Glick made a rare appearance at oral arguments in the case.

During the hearing, the judges — Clinton appointees Merrick Garland and David Tatel and Obama pick Robert Wilkins — asked counsel for Otsego 2000 to defend the group's standing.

Legal experts who attended arguments noted FERC's placement of its policy change inside proceedings for a low-profile project was likely a strategic move.

Twitter: @pamelalauren Email:

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