FERC’s 18-Year-Old Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Policy Needs Updating

Figure 3 from the NRDC report, November 6, 2017

On November 6, 2017, the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a press release saying, “The government’s 18-year-old policy for approving natural gas pipelines that cross state borders should be updated to reflect the sector’s significant changes and exponential growth, as well as increasing concerns about public health and environmental risks, according to a groundbreaking Analysis Group study commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“The report, Natural Gas Pipeline Certification: Policy Considerations for a Changing Industry, examines the changes in the patterns and pricing of the production, transportation, and use of natural gas, as well as sizable amount of pipeline infrastructure added since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its 1999 Policy Statement governing how it makes decisions on certifying new interstate pipelines.

“‘The report underscores very real concerns that we are overbuilding the natural gas pipeline system,’ said Montina Cole, a senior attorney working with the Sustainable FERC Project housed within NRDC. ‘Pipelines put people’s health, safe drinking water, and our climate at risk. It’s a waste to keep building more pipelines when America is rapidly transitioning to a cleaner, energy future with non-polluting alternatives that don’t require pipelines, such as energy efficiency, wind and solar.’

“FERC has approved approximately 400 pipeline applications since then, creating enough capacity to carry 180 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day, the report said. However, average daily U.S. consumption was less than half that last year at only 75.11 billion cubic feet. (The average daily use in January 2017 was 93.1 billion cubic feet, still considerably below pipeline capacity.)”

Read the full NRDC press release here.

Read the new report here.

Read a blog post by Montina Cole, the senior attorney working with the Sustainable FERC Project within NRDC.