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Sierra Club v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20174
Nos. 15-1133, (D.C. Cir., 11/04/2016)

The D.C. Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, denied an environmental group's petition for review challenging FERC's approval of a proposed liquefied natural gas project in Texas. The group argued that FERC violated NEPA in its consideration of the projects’ indirect and cumulative effects. But as to the indirect effects of natural gas exports, FERC's NEPA analysis did not have to address the indirect effects of the anticipated export of natural gas because DOE, not FERC, has sole authority to license the export of any natural gas. As to the cumulative effects, a NEPA cumulative-impact analysis need only consider the effect of the current project along with any other past, present, or likely future actions in the same geographic area, which is what FERC did here. In addition, FERC took a "hard look" at the project's impacts. It reasonably concluded electric motors were not an appropriate alternative because they would result in additional environmental impacts, raised reliability concerns, and were unnecessary to meet EPA's air quality standards. Last, the court held the group's arguments regarding greenhouse gas emissions have no merit, as the court has already considered and rejected identical arguments relating to the social cost of carbon.