Court Upholds FERC's Authority in Gas Pipeline, LNG Project Deadline Extensions

(P&GJ) — A recent court ruling upheld FERC's authority to extend deadlines for approved natural gas projects, despite opposition from environmental groups, RTO Insider reported. The cases in question involved the Northern Access Pipeline in Pennsylvania and the expansion of Cheniere's Corpus Christi Liquefaction LNG facility in Texas.

The decision came after years of legal battles and requests for deadline extensions due to various reasons, including regulatory hurdles and the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In both instances, FERC granted extensions after determining that the project sponsors had shown diligence and citing unforeseen challenges beyond their control. The court supported FERC's reasoning, emphasizing the agency's broad discretion in such matters. Critics, including the Sierra Club and Public Citizen, argued that FERC's process for granting extensions lacked rigor and amounted to rubber-stamping requests. However, the court countered this argument by highlighting the significant investments and incentives for project sponsors to complete construction promptly.

According to RTO Insider, one key point of contention was whether FERC should reassess the findings underlying the original project approval when considering extension requests. While environmental groups pushed for this requirement, the court sided with FERC, affirming the agency's authority to make necessary amendments to project certificates without reevaluation in every instance.

Additionally, concerns were raised regarding changes in regulatory frameworks, such as New York's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, impacting project approvals. However, FERC determined that such changes did not affect the demand for the projects in question, leading the court to support the agency's decision once again.

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