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Allegheny Defense Project v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20133
Nos. 17-1098, (D.C. Cir., 08/02/2019)

The D.C. Circuit upheld FERC's approval of a natural gas pipeline that would run from northern Pennsylvania to Alabama. Environmental groups and landowners argued that FERC violated NEPA by failing to factor downstream greenhouse gas emissions into its evaluation of the project's environmental impacts. The court found that FERC had addressed downstream emissions by estimating the amount of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the gas that the project would transport and predicating that those emissions would be partially offset by reductions in higher carbon-emitting fuel that the project's natural gas would replace. Plaintiffs also argued that FERC was deficient in its analysis of an alternative site for the project. The court found that FERC's consideration of the alternative route—openly grappling with the factors favoring the alternative route and reasonably explaining why the proposed route was nonetheless superior—passed NEPA muster. Lastly, plaintiffs argued that FERC denied them due process by authorizing construction to commence before the Commission's approval was final and judicially reviewable. The court found no liberty or property interest of which plaintiffs had been deprived by the authorization, nor anything to suggest that the procedures followed by FERC were constitutionally insufficient. It therefore denied the petitions.