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Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur Statement
July 18, 2019
Docket No.
CP18-525-000
Order Item: C-1 PDF
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Concurrence Regarding Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP

Todayís order grants Gulf South Pipeline Company, LPís (Gulf South) request for authorization to construct and operate the Willis Lateral Project in Polk, Montgomery, and San Jacinto Counties, Texas. 1 After carefully balancing the need for the project and its environmental impacts, I find the project is in the public interest. For the reasons discussed below, I concur.

The Willis Lateral Project will provide up to 200,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/day) of firm transportation service to Entergyís Montgomery Power Station, a gas-fired combined cycle power plant. The Environmental Assessment (EA) quantified the direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the projectís construction and operation, as well as the downstream indirect GHG emissions.2 The EA also provided important context by comparing the downstream emission estimates to both the national and Texas GHG emissions inventory.3

In prior concurrences, I noted my concerns about the Commissionís failure to assess the significance of the GHG emissions.4 I continue to have the same concerns in this case and believe that the Commission could develop a framework for assessing significance, if it chose to do so. I expect that the courts will continue to require the Commission to expand its climate analysis.5

Additionally, as discussed in my concurrence in Freeport LNG Development, L.P., the Commissionís general refusal to grapple with the significance of GHG emissions creates an additional risk here because the Commission prepared an EA instead of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), recommending a finding of no significant impact.6 This tension between the finding of no significant impact, and the Commissionís failure to assess significance of climate change impacts, heightens the risk that a court could vacate and remand this project, simply on the basis of which environmental document was prepared.7 The Commission could and should alleviate these risks by developing a framework for assessing significance.

While I will continue to consider and evaluate these issues as they arise in individual proceedings, I believe the Commission should proactively address these issues. If we do not, further guidance from the courts on our NEPA responsibility to consider climate change will likely require us to do so.

For these reasons, I respectfully concur.






                                               

    1 Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP, 168 FERC ∂ 61,036 (2019).
    2 EA at 43- 45 and Tables 10 and 11.
    3 EA at 45.
    4 See, e.g, Driftwood LNG LLC, 167 FERC ∂ 61,054 (2019)(LaFleur, Comm’r, concurring).
    5 E.g., Sierra Club v. FERC, 867 F.3d 1357 (D.C. Cir. 2017).† See also Birckhead v. FERC, 925 F.3d 510 (D.C. Cir. 2019).
    6 167 FERC ∂ 61,155 (2019) (LaFleur, Commír, concurring).
    7 See American Rivers v. FERC, 895 F.3d 32, 49 (D.C. Cir. 2018).
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