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Appalachian Voices v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20032
Nos. 17-1271, (D.C. Cir., 02/19/2019)

In an unpublished opinion, the D.C. Circuit denied environmental groups' petitions to review FERC's issuance of a certificate of public convenience and necessity for construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The groups argued that FERC failed to adequately consider the climate change impacts of downstream greenhouse gas emissions resulting from combustion of natural gas transported by the pipeline. The court found the agency provided an estimate of the upper bound of emissions resulting from end-use combustion and gave several reasons for determining that the pipeline company's preferred metric—the social cost of carbon tool—was not an appropriate measure of project-level climate change impacts, which was all that was required for NEPA purposes. The groups also challenged FERC's environmental impact analysis, but the court concluded that the agency adequately considered and disclosed erosion and sedimentation impacts on aquatic resources, karst terrain, and residents' cultural attachment to the land, and appropriately evaluated reasonable alternatives. The groups also raised objections to the company's exercise of eminent domain, arguing that it violated the Natural Gas Act, the Takings Clause, and the groups' due process rights. But the court again found these challenges lacked merit, and therefore denied the groups' petitions.