Washington Watch

Washington Watch: Methane Emission Standards Hit Pipelines; but More Gently than Proposed

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final methane performance standards for natural gas controllers and compressors, which will require midstream and interstate pipelines to take a new look at their emission controls.

Pipelines unhappy with Clean Water Act final rule

The new Clean Water Act (CWA) final rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) potentially complicates efforts by pipeline builders (and other infrastructure sectors) to get construction approval from states and tribes.

Biden administration wants to count downstream GHG emissions when FERC considers pipeline, power projects

(UI) — The President Biden administration announced its latest effort to throw a wrench in pipeline construction. The Biden Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) wants to rollback Trump administration pro-pipeline changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

New permitting provisions in budget bill slight natural gas industry

(UI) — The natural gas industry greeted the permitting reform bill Congress passed, and President Biden signed last month with something short of enthusiasm. The permitting provisions in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 had only glancing benefits for gas pipelines and were chiefly written to benefit wind, solar and electric energy deployment.

Washington Watch: FERC Rejects Environmental Concerns About Gas Pipeline Projects

(UC) — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) continues to dispatch environmental objections to pipeline projects. Even Chairman Richard Glick, who had originally made reducing greenhouse gas emissions his guiding light, is turning a deaf ear.

Washington Watch: INGAA Opposes New Pipeline Safety Mandates

(UC) — Interstate gas pipelines will have nine months to comply with some of the significant new safety regulations from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The agency has been working on these rules for a decade ever since the San Bruno, Calif., gas explosion on a PG&E pipeline in 2010, which killed eight people.

New Methane Fee Could Hit Pipelines Hard

Numerous interstate pipeline companies have facilities which emit enough methane – in some cases much more than enough – in order to get hit by the new methane fee contained in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) President Biden signed in August.

FERC Rate Change Posting Proposal Controversial

Responding to a June 2021 petition from interstate pipeline customers, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has proposed upgraded website posting requirements when pipelines file for a Section 4 rate change.

Newest EPA Methane Proposal Hits Pipelines Hard

(UC) — The United States Senate bill on climate change, which includes a fee on pipeline emissions of methane, puts a new emphasis on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) two rulemakings on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

FERC Considering Pipeline Sales of ‘Responsibly Sourced Natural Gas’

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) appears likely to approve the first application from a pipeline company to sell “responsibly sourced natural gas” (RSG) at a premium price. Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), a major delivery pipeline on the east coast has in essence been trying to work out an acceptable tariff with FERC for sales of RSG.

EPA, USACE Double-Team Pipeline Construction

The Biden Administration is at it again with its latest regulatory effort to stymie pipeline development. A few months ago, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) suggested new restrictions on general pipeline repair permit NWP 12, which includes minimal dredge and fill near “waters of the U.S. (WOTUS).”

New FERC pipeline policies worrisome

By Stephen Barlas, Washington, D.C. Editor Potential impact of Europe’s new need for U.S. liquid natural gas (LNG) is now reverberating inside and outside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as it attempts to implement two new policy statements..

Pipelines Push Back Against New Reliability Regulatory Agency

By Stephen Barlas, Washington D.C. Editor A House Democratic subcommittee chairman is teeing up legislation creating a new regulatory agency that would ostensibly safeguard interstate pipeline reliability. The House subcommittee on energy held a hearing on Jan. 19 on the Energy Product Reliability ..

FERC Ignores Environmentalist Pleas to Penalize Spire STL

By Stephen Barlas, Washington, D.C. Editor In a setback for environmentalists, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) refused to financially penalize the Spire STL pipeline, whose future was thrown into question by a decision from a DC Federal Appeals Court this past summer. The Court said..

Infrastructure Bill Lavishes $44 billion in New Money on Water Construction

By Stephen Barlas, Washington, D.C. Editor Congress dropped a load of new funding for drinking water and sewer construction in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) which is meant to be over and above what the appropriations committees will provide annually for the Clean Water and Drinkin..

FERC Punts on GHG ‘Significance’ Again

By Stephen Barlas, Washington D.C. Editor The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) continues to hesitate in determining whether greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new pipeline projects are a “significant” contribution to climate change.  The latest example is an FERC draft environmental im..

FERC Wants One-Year Limit on State Consideration of Water Quality Permits

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission plans to apply the new Federal Clean Water Act requirement to transmission pipelines.

EPA Eliminates Methane Emission Restrictions for Pipelines

The new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule, freeing interstate pipelines from Obama-era rules that set volatile organic chemical (VOC) and methane emission restrictions, is headed for a federal court date.

Army Corps Proposes New Pipeline Permit

The Army Corps of Engineers is moving to make changes in its Nationwide Permit 12, which allows pipelines whose construction poses minimal impact on wetlands to enter a simple, quick regulatory permit approval process.

PHMSA ratifies industry request on MAOP

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule in mid-July granting transmission pipelines the changes they requested after publication of a big final rule last October titled, “Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines: MAOP Reconfirmation, Expansion of Assessment Requirements, and Other Related Amendments.”

Pro-Pipeline Changes to NEPA Challenged

One lawsuit has already been filed contesting the Trump administration’s July pro-pipeline changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) gave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) new authority to discount greenhouse gas emissions when approving applications for new interstate pipeline construction.

FERC Policy Statement on ROE Favors Pipelines

Interstate gas and oil pipelines got a couple of big boosts from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policy statement published on May 21. Changes in the way the FERC calculates a pipeline’s return on equity (ROE) generally mean the higher the ROE, the higher the rates a pipeline can charge.

Senate Water Infrastructure Bills Pass Committee

Two bills passed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will increase authorization levels for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Water (CW) and Drinking Water (DW) State Revolving Funds (SRFs). But those are only ceilings for annual funding; the Appropriations Committees in both houses actually determine funding in fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1, 2020, and beyond.

PHMSA Proposal on Valves Proves Controversial

Flack is hitting the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) from all sides over its proposed rule to require automatic and remote shutoff valves on oil and gas pipelines. The February 2020 proposed rule from PHMSA attempts to implement mandates from both the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Congress.

PHMSA Allowing Enforcement Flexibility During Coronavirus Pandemic

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is giving enforcement latitude to pipeline operators during the coronavirus pandemic.

CEQ Pro-Pipeline NEPA Changes Generate Heated Attacks

The CEQ proposal includes changes to the wording and timelines in the NEPA – which controls the scope of environmental impact statements – in an attempt to modernize the 30-year-old law. Many of those pro-pipeline changes parallel recommendations made last December by the National Petroleum Council.

House Democrats Consider Anti-Pipeline Reg Changes

Democrats in the House have introduced two bills that would negatively affect interstate pipelines. The legislative efforts align with a broader push by Democrats, including presidential candidates, to enact “green” energy policies which, if not vilifying natural gas, at least tarnish its reputation as a climate-preferred alternative to coal and oil.

Two Federal Regulatory Actions Ease Pipeline Construction

Two key President Trump administration environmental regulators have made moves to wipe away potential barriers to new pipeline construction.

FERC Boosts Natural Gas in Lieu of Alternative Fuels

An order issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in December against state subsidies for nuclear and renewable energy – called “out-of-market subsidies” – apparently gives a big boost to electric utilities using natural gas and the pipelines that feed them.

EPA Proposes Limits on State Regulatory Barriers to Pipeline Construction

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving ahead with an effort to limit the ability of states to stymie pipeline projects by either declining to issue or delaying the issuance of Clean Water Act certifications. The states and Indian tribes are required to issue those permits within one year of submission of a request by a company wanting to build a pipeline.