Tuesday, May 26, 2015

FERC Violations of Law, just the bullet points

FERC Violations of Law, and Defiance of Court order

  1. Violations: of National Environmental Policy Act
    • In dozens of projects, FERC has failed to examine 
      • Direct impacts (of the project itself)
      • Indirect impacts, including:
      •  upstream impacts (fracking, compressor stations) 
        • Chairman LaFleur states that "FERC does not regulate fracking". This may be true, but is IRRELEVANT to their duties under NEPA
      • downstream impacts (e.g. Radon gas in homes)
      • reasonably forseeable impacts (e.g., additional compressors, more fracking)
      • Cumulative impacts (aggregate of projects regionally)
      • impacts of connected projects (project segmentation)
    • FERC's EA-Only Fast Track is illegal under NEPA -- "Finding of no significant impact" = FONSI in all the following cases:
      • Seneca Lake methane storage
      • Minisink compressor (where people are sick)
      • Dominion New Market Project is heading that way
      • Cove Point (2 million tons per year in GHG emissions!)
      • many others...
  2. Natural Gas Act Violations:
    • Failing to consider the safety/compliance record of applicant. Natural gas act demands "otherwise such application shall be denied." 15 USC 717f(e)
    • In many cases, FERC "jump starts" a deadlock condition by issuing a "conditional" Certification of Public Convenience and necessity PRIOR to all the environmental reviews being complete, such as the 401 and 404 permits under the Clean Water Act. 
    • Allowing jurisdictional facilities under the Natural Gas Act to be constructed WITHOUT a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity without sanction. e.g., Williams Central Station, Williams Dunbar compressor.
      • This is done via the "API Loophole" promulgated in 2005, where the American Petroleum Institute gets to decide whether a compressor station is jurisdictional. 49 CFR 192.8
      • FERC has NO statutory authority to delegate this critical definition to the very industry they regulate
      • The Natural Gas Act states that “[u]nless the Commission acts upon the application for rehearing within thirty days after it is filed, such application may be deemed to have been denied.” 15 U.S.C. § 717r(a) (2012). However, FERC commonly delays this by 6 months or longer, which allows the project to get built and prevents the case from going to court. 
  3. Violation of orders of the federal courts:  

    • FERC is continuing to segment many projects, including Constitution, despite the orderin re Delaware Riverkeeper Network v. FERC (13-1015, United States Court of Appeals, DC Circuit)
  4. FERC has overstepped their statutory authority FERC created the "API Loophole" in the regs (which have the force of law) which grants the definition of a "gathering line" to industry. This allows MASSIVELY POLLUTING compressor stations to be built without an EIS when the need it,and it lets them get eminent domain for the pipelines when they need that.

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