FERC Chairman Richard Glick announced his plans on February 11 to better incorporate environmental justice and equity concerns into FERC’s decisionmaking process.
Improving the process for reviewing and determining the need for and appropriate siting of new natural gas infrastructure is among Chairman Glick’s top priorities. The Chairman created a new senior-level position tasked with coordinating with experts in all FERC program offices to integrate environmental justice and equity matters into FERC decisions. Chairman Glick’s recent action is consistent with President Biden’s January 27, 2021 Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which calls for recommendations on how certain federal investments in the areas of clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean transit can be made to achieve a goal of having 40% of the overall benefits flow to disadvantaged communities, which we discussed in our January 28, 2021 LawFlash.
As we previously discussed, the natural gas industry will likely continue to see challenges to siting new natural gas infrastructure. Developers should expect to face a more rigorous environmental review that will involve a more in-depth examination of the climate impacts of proposed projects. Before he was elevated to Chairman and while he was a FERC Commissioner, Chairman Glick had criticized the adequacy of FERC’s environmental reviews, and in particular, the lack of review and consideration of the impacts of reasonably foreseeable greenhouse gas emissions resulting from proposed projects. The Chairman’s creation of the new senior-level environmental justice position signals that FERC’s review of proposed projects will focus not only on climate change impacts but will also focus on the impacts that proposed projects may have on historically marginalized communities and landowners.