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Sierra Club v. FERC

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20104
Nos. 16-1939 & 16-1387, (D.C. Cir., 08/22/2017)

The D.C. Circuit held that carbon emissions from gas-burning power plants should have been considered in federal regulators’ review of a Florida natural gas pipeline. Environmental groups and landowners challenged a FERC decision to approve the construction and operation of three new interstate natural-gas pipelines in the southeastern United States. The groups alleged that the agency did not consider the cumulative effects of emissions from the plants that would burn the gas in the EIS it conducted when it approved the pipeline. FERC contended that NEPA only required it to consider the impacts along the path of the pipeline. The court disagreed, stating that the EIS must consider not just the journey but the destination. As the power plants could cause an indirect environmental effect, FERC erred in not considering them in its EIS. The petition for review of FERC's approval was vacated and remanded to the agency to prepare a new EIS.