Court affirms FERC approvals for gas pipeline expansion in Louisiana and Mississippi

(UI) —According to Reuters, a U.S. appeals court has upheld federal endorsements for a natural gas pipeline expansion initiative in Louisiana and Mississippi, dismissing claims from environmental advocates regarding inadequate scrutiny of its environmental impact.

The decision, rendered by a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, supports the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) determination that the Evangeline Pass Expansion Project operates independently from four other gas infrastructure ventures. Consequently, FERC wasn't required to assess their emissions collectively, the court ruled.

Backed by Kinder Morgan, the project aims to enhance existing pipelines to supply more fuel to Venture Global's Plaquemines liquefied natural gas export terminal in the Gulf of Mexico.

Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Healthy Gulf, had contested FERC's approvals, arguing that the combined impact of the expansion and related projects would lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions. However, the court deemed FERC's analysis acceptable, citing the separate ownership and independent development of the other projects.

Neither the environmental groups nor the involved parties immediately responded to requests for comment. These projects are part of a broader expansion of LNG export capabilities in the Gulf region, with the U.S. emerging as the world's largest LNG exporter.

Despite environmental groups' claims of FERC violating the National Environmental Policy Act, the court sided with FERC's argument that a cumulative analysis wasn't necessary as the individual projects were likely to proceed independently.

Construction is currently underway for the Evangeline Pass expansion, alongside ongoing work on the Plaquemines terminal, with its initial exports anticipated later this year. The case is identified as Alabama Municipal Distributors Group v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, lead case No. 22-1101.

Legal representation for the environmental challengers is provided by Nathan Matthews and Rebecca McCreary of the Sierra Club.

This story was originally published by Reuters.

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