Description: Challenge to FERC approval of the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline expansion project in Pennsylvania and other locations on East Coast.
Allegheny Defense Project v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 05/10/2018 Brief Download Brief filed by FERC. 03/09/2018 Brief Download Joint opening brief filed by petitioners. 11/08/2017 Order Download Emergency motion for stay denied. D.C. Circuit Denied Emergency Stay of Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project. On November 8, 2017, the D.C. Circuit denied the motion for an emergency stay filed by environmental groups in late October. 10/30/2017 Motion Download Emergency motion for stay filed. On October 30, 2017, the petitioners challenging FERC’s authorization of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency stay. The petitioners contended that they had a high likelihood of success on their claims that FERC had not adequately analyzed the climate impacts of the end use of the natural gas transported by the project and had not considered indirect impacts of shale gas drilling that that the project would induce. The petitioners also argued that irreparable environmental injury would occur in the absence of a stay, that a stay would not substantially harm other parties, and that a stay was in the public interest. 09/21/2017 Order Download Motions to dismiss referred to merits panel. While requests for rehearing regarding the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline expansion project were still pending with FERC, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals referred motions to dismiss petitions challenging FERC’s February 2017 authorization of the pipeline project to the merits panel. The parallel proceedings resulted at least in part from FERC’s lacking a quorum earlier in 2017 to rule on the rehearing requests within the required 30-day timeframe. The petitioners contended that FERC’s failure to act on the rehearing requests operated as a denial of the requests and gave them the ability to challenge FERC’s authorization in the D.C. Circuit. FERC and the pipeline project’s developer argued that the D.C. Circuit did not have jurisdiction to hear the challenges. 04/28/2017 Motion to Dismiss Download Motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction filed. 03/23/2017 Petition for Review Download Petition for review filed. Environmental Groups Challenged East Coast Pipeline Project in D.C. Circuit. Environmental organizations filed a petition for review in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) approvals for the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline expansion project. The petitioners said that their request for rehearing had been denied because FERC had not acted on it within 30 days. The petitioners asserted that a tolling order issued by FERC staff was invalid. In the request for rehearing, the environmental groups had contended that the environmental review of the project, including its consideration of climate impacts, was deficient.
In re Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/06/2017 Order Download Rehearing denied. FERC Denied Rehearing of Approval of Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied requests for rehearing of its order authorizing construction and operation of the Atlantic Sunrise Project, which includes approximately 200 miles of interstate natural gas pipeline and related facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Environmental and citizen groups had asserted that FERC failed to take greenhouse gas impacts into account in several ways; FERC rejected each of these arguments. FERC said the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) did not require it to consider indirect effects of induced gas production, including greenhouse gas emissions, because there was not a causal relationship between FERC’s action and additional production and, in any event, the scope of impacts from any such induced production was not reasonably foreseeable. FERC also found that it adequately considered the project’s downstream impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, noting that it had estimated the greenhouse gas emissions associated with combustion of the gas to be transported by the project as required by the D.C. Circuit in its decision regarding the Southeast Market Pipelines Project. FERC said it could not quantify possible effects the project would have on renewable energy production. 09/22/2017 Request for Rehearing Download Amended request for rehearing filed. With FERC and Court Proceedings Pending on Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project, Environmental Groups Said FERC Needed to Reassess Greenhouse Gas Impacts. Environmental groups filed an amended request for rehearing with FERC on September 22, 2017, arguing that a supplemental environmental impact statement analyzing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts was required in light of the D.C. Circuit’s August 22, 2017 decision in Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 16-1329, which required FERC to do more to assess downstream greenhouse gas emissions and other climate impacts with respect to another pipeline project. The groups contended that the environmental review of the Atlantic Sunrise project had “impermissibly downplay[ed] cumulative climate impacts” as well as downstream greenhouse gas emissions and asserted that FERC was required to use the social cost of carbon to assess the project’s impacts and to analyze or explore mitigation for the project’s combustion impacts. The groups said FERC should halt construction and rescind a notice to proceed issued earlier in September. 08/31/2017 Order Download Stay denied. FERC Declined to Stay Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project; Rehearing Requests Still Pending. FERC denied requests for a stay of its February 3, 2017 order authorizing construction and operation of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project. FERC said the parties requesting the stay had not established that they would suffer irreparable harm. FERC noted that it had yet to consider the merits of any requests for rehearing. Parties had argued that flaws in FERC’s review of the pipeline project included failure to address downstream greenhouse gas impacts. 02/24/2017 Request for Rehearing Download Request for rehearing filed. Environmental and Community Groups Seek FERC Rehearing on Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Project. Two requests for rehearing filed with FERC asked the Commission to withdraw its order authorizing the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline expansion project and the final environmental impact statement for the project and to redo the environmental analysis and public convenience and necessity analysis in compliance with NEPA and the NGA. The Atlantic Sunrise project included approximately 200 miles of new pipeline, mostly in Pennsylvania, and related infrastructure in Pennsylvania and at other locations on the East Coast. One request for rehearing was filed by seven environmental and community organizations led by Allegheny Defense Project; the other request was filed by Accokeek, Mattawoman, Piscataway Creeks Communities Council Inc. The requests enumerated numerous alleged deficits in the environmental review, including a “fatally flawed” cumulative impacts analysis that “all but ignor[ed] the substantial impacts of Marcellus and Utica shale gas development and climate change” and a failure to adequately consider the project’s downstream impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. 02/10/2017 Request for Rehearing Download Request for rehearing filed.