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Louisiana Power & Light Co. v. Federal Power Comm'n

Citation: 7 ELR 20672
No. No. 75-3429, 577 F.2d 1122/10 ERC 1587/(5th Cir., 08/19/1977)

On direct appeal, the court holds that the Federal Power Commission (FPC) is not required to file an environmental impact statement (EIS) on an interim natural gas curtailment plan because circumstances have not so changed as to render invalid the FPC's decision that compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) would conflict with its emergency duties under the Natural Gas Act. Petitioner, a customer of a gas pipeline company, sought review of the FPC decision that an EIS was not required because immediate promulgation of the interim natural gas curtailment plan, which applied to the pipeline company, was necessary to protect the public interest while the permanent plan was being developed.Reaffirming the rule of reason standard set forth in Louisiana v. FPC, 503 F.2d 844 (5th Cir. 1974), the court describes the question as whether the FPC can comply with NEPA and discharge its emergency responsibilities under the Natural Gas Act as well. The intended or actual duration of a nominally "interim" curtailment plan is only of tangential importance, but NEPA cannot be avoided by continuing to implement an interim plan so that in fact it becomes permanent. Only the statutory necessity for prompt emergency action by the FPC can justify failure to examine environmental implications of an interim plan. In this case, the record fails to show that the agency's original reasons for not complying with NEPA are no longer valid.

Counsel for Petitioner
Andrew P. Carter
Monroe & Lemann
1424 Whitney Bldg., New Orleans LA 70130
(504) 586-1900

Counsel for Respondent
Allan A. Tuttle, Solicitor
Federal Power Commission
825 N. Capitol St. NE, Washington DC 20426
(202) 275-4258

Before CLARK, RONEY and TJOFLAT, Circuit Judges.