Appeals Court Blocks FERC Approval of Florida Gas Line

A federal appeals court has ordered the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to review its decision to approve the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline in Florida. It’s a ruling that could affect major energy projects across the nation.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was a victory for the Sierra Club which argued that FERC had failed to adequately consider downstream greenhouse gas emissions from the Southeast Market Pipelines Project.

“It’s a very significant decision coming out of the D.C. Circuit because FERC and other federal agencies, especially under the Trump administration, have tried to really limit their review and not fully grapple with all of the impacts of their decisions and their approvals,” stated Elly Benson, an attorney with the Sierra Club.

Benson told E and E News, the ruling will have wider impacts on other challenges dealing with climate analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act. It was a 2-1 decision that directed FERC to review the downstream climate impacts of the Southeast pipelines or offer a more detailed explanation of why it isn’t.

The Sabal Trail Transmission is a joint venture of Spectra Energy Partners, LP, NextEra Energy, Inc, a company with deep wind farm development in Oklahoma, and Duke energy. The 515-mile pipeline would carry natural gas through Alabama, Georgia and Florida at a rate of more than 1 billion cubic feet a day.

It not only would provide natural gas to Florida Power and Light company but also to Duke Energy Florida’s new natural gas plant in Citrus County, Florida.