Docket No. CP21-197-000

We concur with the decision to issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Kern River Gas Transmission Company (Kern River) for its proposed Delta Lateral Project.  We write separately because today’s order does not assess the significance of the climate impacts from the project’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.[1]  Both Commission precedent and common sense support the conclusion that the project’s GHG emissions will not “significantly” affect the environment within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).[2]  Where, as here, it is obvious that climate impacts cannot be deemed significant under any framework for assessing significance that the Commission may ultimately adopt, the Commission should simply say so.   

In Northern Natural Gas Co., the Commission found that it could determine the significance of GHG impacts for NEPA purposes using best available quantitative and qualitative evidence and applying its expertise and judgment.[3]  The courts have long construed NEPA based on a “common sense” understanding of its terms.[4]  The Commission has appropriately decided it will not make significance findings in cases involving potentially significant GHG emissions while we are considering comments on the draft GHG Policy Statement.[5]  However, that does not compel us to abandon applicable Commission precedent – or our common sense – in determining whether the GHG emissions in this case would “significantly” affect the environment.   

First, the construction related and operational GHG emissions resulting from the Delta Lateral Project would be lower than those from the project in Northern Natural.  The final EIS for the Delta Lateral Project estimates that project construction may generate GHG emissions of up to 14,470 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).[6]  The project’s estimated operational emissions would be approximately 155 metric tons per year (tpy) CO2e.[7]  In Northern Natural, construction-related emissions were estimated at 19,655 metric tons and operational emissions at 351 tpy of CO2e.[8] 

Second, the Delta Lateral Project would result in a substantial net decrease in downstream GHG emissions.[9]  Here, Kern River submitted a study showing that the Delta Lateral Project would result in a net reduction of 4.17 million metric tpy in downstream GHG emissions due to Intermountain Power Agency’s replacement of coal-fired generation with gas-fired generation.[10]  Even under the alternative methodology offered by EPA, there would still be a net reduction of downstream emissions of 2.64 million metric tpy.[11]

When the net reduction in downstream emissions is factored in, the project would substantially reduce GHG emissions overall.  The Commission should apply our precedent, as well as our common sense, to find that the GHG emissions here are not significant. 

For these reasons, we respectfully concur.



[1] Kern River Gas Transmission Co., 179 FERC ¶ 61,121, at P 30 (2022) (Order).  We agree with one another that (1) the Commission is fully capable of determining the significance of GHG emissions, and (2) there is no reason to wait for a final GHG Policy Statement to find the emissions here insignificant when they would be deemed so under any reasonable framework for assessing significance.  However, as reflected in our separate concurring statements in recent certificate orders, our approaches differ when emissions levels are potentially significant.  See, e.g., Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., L.L.C., 179 FERC ¶ 61,041 (2022) (Glick, Chairman, concurring, at P 7) (“I would have found this project’s GHG emissions to be significant”) (Clements, Comm’r, concurring, at P 3) (appropriate to decline to label emissions or significant or insignificant while Commission considers comments on Draft GHG Policy Statement).           

[2] NEPA § 102(2)(C), 42 U.S.C. § 4332(2)(C).

[3] See N. Nat. Gas Co., 174 FERC ¶ 61,189, at PP 32, 33 (2021).

[4] See, e.g., Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 435 U.S. 519, 551 (1978) (“common sense” teaches NEPA requirement for “detailed statement of alternatives” does not include every conceivable alternative).    

[5] Order at P 30.

[6] Final EIS at 18.

[7] Id.  To place this number in context, it is estimated that the typical household in the United States has a “carbon footprint” of approximately 48 metric tpy of CO2e.  Carbon Footprint Factsheet, Center for Sustainable Systems, U. Mich. (Sept. 2021),  Using that estimate, the annual operational emissions from the Delta Lateral Project would equate to the emissions from 3.2 households.  No reasonable framework for assessing significance would find the emissions from three households (too few even for a respectable block party) to be significant under NEPA.

[8] N. Nat. Gas Co., 174 FERC ¶ 61,189 at P 29.

[9] There were no reasonably foreseeable downstream emissions in Northern Natural.  The project there entailed abandonment and replacement of pipeline facilities, which would not change the downstream GHG emissions.  See id. at PP 4, 6.

[10] Kern River April 23, 2021 Filing at 5. 

[11] Order at P 32.

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