Commissioner Bernard L. McNamee Statement
May 21, 2020
Docket No. CP19-471-000
Concurrence Regarding Bluewater Gas Storage, LLC
Today’s order issues Bluewater Gas Storage, LLC (Bluewater) a certificate of public convenience and necessity for authorization to construct and operate a new 11,150 horsepower compressor station in Macomb County, Michigan (Project).1 Bluewater proposes the Project to restore its delivery capacity into Vector Pipeline, LP’s (Vector) interstate natural gas pipeline system to its design capability.2 Bluewater states that the Project will enable Bluewater’s customers to continue to reliably deliver natural gas supplies to end-users in Wisconsin via Vector’s system.3 The Project will not add any incremental capacity.
I fully support the order as it complies with the Commission’s statutory responsibilities under the Natural Gas Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The order determines that the Project is in the public convenience and necessity, finding that the Project will not adversely affect Bluewater’s existing customers or competitor pipelines and their captive customers, and that the Project will have minimal impacts on landowners and communities.4 The order also finds that the Project will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.5 Further, the Commission has quantified and considered the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by the construction and operation of the Project,6 consistent with the holding in Sierra Club v. FERC (Sabal Trail).7
I write separately to respond to my colleague’s argument that the Commission should have determined whether the GHG emissions related to the Project are “significant.” In my concurrence in Transco, I explain that the Commission has no reasoned basis to make a determination of whether GHG emissions related to the proposed facilities are significant.8 Further, it is not appropriate for the Commission to establish out of whole cloth a GHG emission mitigation program, particularly when Congress has introduced and failed to pass 70 legislative bills to reduce GHG emissions over the last 15 years.9 As I explain in Transco, Congress delegated the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the exclusive authority to establish standards of performance for air pollutants, including GHGs.10 For logistical reasons and administrative efficiency, I hereby incorporate my analysis in Transco by reference and am not reprinting the full text of my analysis here.11
For the reasons discussed above and incorporated by reference herein, I respectfully concur.
- 1 Bluewater Gas Storage, LLC, 171 FERC ¶ 61,132 (2020).
- 2 Id. P 7.
- 3 Id.
- 4 Id. PP 14-19.
- 5 Id. P 49.
- 6 Id. PP 46-47; Environmental Assessment at 33.
- 7 867 F.3d 1357 (D.C. Cir. 2017). I note that my concurrence in Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) in which I incorporate herein, states that “[t]hough the D.C. Circuit’s holding in Sabal Trail is binding on the Commission, it is not appropriate to expand that holding through the dicta in Birckhead so as to establish new authorities under the NGA and NEPA. The Commission is still bound by the NGA and NEPA as enacted by Congress, and interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court and the D.C. Circuit. Our obligation is to read the statutes and case law in harmony.” Transco, 171 FERC ¶ 61,032 (2020) (McNamee, Comm’r, concurring at P 13 n.31).
- 8 Id. PP 63-74.
- 9 Id. PP 53-62.
- 10 Id. PP 54-58.
- 11 Id. PP 53-74.
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