D.C. Circuit upholds FERC approval of natural gas project

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A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval of a natural gas compressor station project developed by Millennium Pipeline Co.

The D.C. Circuit on Aug. 15 rejected an appeal brought by the Minisink Residents for Environmental Preservation and Safety (MREPS) in Minisink, N.Y., according to GenerationHub.

In July 2012, FERC approved a proposal for the construction of a natural gas compressor station in the town of Minisink. Local foes formed the environmental group and unsuccessfully sought to stop the project.

The environmental group mainly argued that the FERC approval was arbitrary and capricious. They also said there was a better alternative site. But the appeals court panel upheld FERC’s handling of the case.

“In approving the Minisink Project, the Commission accorded the Wagoner Alternative the serious consideration it was due, in keeping with its statutory obligations,” the court said.

“In its judgment, the Commission did not think the Wagoner Alternative preferable and concluded that the Minisink Project, as put forward by Millennium, would serve the public interest and necessity. We are simply not empowered to second-guess the Commission’s determination on this point or to substitute our judgment for the Commission’s.”

After receiving and reviewing a slew of comments concerning the environmental assessment, FERC ruled on Millennium’s application in July 2012. By a 3-2 majority, the Commission voted to issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Millennium, allowing the Minisink Project to move forward.

After considering and rejecting various challenges to its initial decision, FERC reaffirmed its certificate approval for the Minisink Project.

Millennium completed construction of the Minisink Project and placed the compressor station into use in June 2013.

The appeals court said it was satisfied that FERC considered alternatives to the Minisink Project, devoting especially thorough attention to the Wagoner Alternative favored by Petitioners.

As it has in the past, the D.C. Circuit said FERC “enjoys broad discretion to invoke expertise in balancing competing interests and drawing administrative lines.”

The D.C. Circuit said that FERC looked at many issues, such as the potential development of the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) Valley power plant in that region.

MREPS versus FERC No. 12-1481 Consolidated with 13-1018 was argued May 1 and decided Aug. 15.

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