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The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will look at the emissions footprint of new natural gas pipeline proposals before approving them, Reuters has reported, citing an interim greenhouse gas emissions policy issued by FERC.
In a fact sheet about the policy, the Commission said that "A project's reasonably foreseeable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be based on a projection of the amount of capacity that actually will be used, the projected utilization rate and any other factors impacting the quantification of project emissions."
"The Commission is establishing a rebuttable presumption that proposed projects with 100,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) emissions will be deemed to have a significant impact on climate change," the regulator also said.
The fact sheet also clarified that in measuring the greenhouse gas footprint of any new gas pipeline project, it will take into account "GHG emissions resulting from construction and operation of the project and, in many cases, GHG emissions resulting from the downstream combustion of transported gas."
While environmentalists welcomed the news, the business had no reason to rejoice.
"Today's actions unnecessarily add barriers to the transport of this reliable and affordable energy resource and will mean higher prices for domestic energy for consumers and businesses," said the vice president of the Global Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Heath Knakmuhs, as quoted by Reuters.
"If we were to continue [turning] a blind eye to climate change and greenhouse-gas emissions, it would simply be adding to the legal uncertainty," said the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Richard Glick during a commission meeting.
He added that the changes in the pipeline approval policies—the first since the late 90s—will give pipeline project developers more clarity about regulators' procedures to balance the response to demand for affordable natural gas and environmental concerns, the Wall Street Journal reported.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com