FERC’s consideration of indirect environmental impacts of the projects it certifies has been heavily debated as the concerns over climate change increase.  Both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Natural Gas Act (NGA) require that FERC consider how an interstate natural gas pipeline directly and indirectly affects the human environment.  Although consideration of direct impacts may be a less controversial topic, FERC’s approach with respect to indirect impacts[1] has proven to be more complex.  It is particularly relevant in light of the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ’s) June 2019 proposed guidance, directing how federal agencies should assess project-related greenhouse gas emissions, discussed in detail here and here.  The guidance suggest that FERC should employ a “rule of reason” when considering impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and if FERC lacks adequate information about these emissions, it does not need to quantify them.  This recommended approach, however, seems to conflict with how the D.C. Circuit interpreted FERC’s duty in analyzing greenhouse gas and other indirect emissions in its earlier June 2019 decision Birckhead v. FERC, USCA Case No. 18-1218 (D.C. Cir. 2019). 
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As part of his regulatory reform agenda, President Donald Trump instructed federal agencies to review their regulations to identify requirements that burden businesses and industry.  See EO 13771 and EO 13777.  In order to comply with these directives, on June 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requested public comments to identify statutes, rules, regulations, and interpretations in policy statements or guidance “that unjustifiably delay or prevent completion of surface, maritime, and aviation transportation infrastructure projects.”

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ATLANTA – April 3, 2017 – Troutman Sanders LLP announced today the addition of a team of nationally recognized lawyers specializing in oil and gas pipeline legal issues. Bob Hogfoss, Catherine Little and Annie Cook have joined the firm as partners. They previously practiced at Hunton & Williams LLP.

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On January 24, President Donald J. Trump signed presidential memoranda jumpstarting the stalled Keystone XL (“Keystone”) and Dakota Access (“Dakota”) pipelines.  President Obama previously rejected TransCanda Corp’s application for a permit to cross the United States-Canadian border, finding at the time that the 1,700-mile pipeline was not in the national interest.  The United States Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) similarly decided  last month that it would not issue an easement allowing the Dakota pipeline to cross federal land in North Dakota, opting instead to consider alternative routes to reduce environmental and cultural impacts to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
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