The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its final approval on Aug. 25 to the controversial $2-billion Nexus Gas Transmission Project, marking a return to regular business at the agency, which was without a quorum of three members for almost eight months.

In its decision, FERC rejected calls from environmental and local groups that the 258-mile pipeline was not needed. Developers, which include Spectra Energy Partners and DTE Energy, said the pipeline, which will move natural gas from the Marcellus shale region in Ohio to southeastern Michigan, is needed to compensate for a decline in natural-gas deliveries from Canada. But the Sierra Club and others say the pipeline isn't needed because only 60% of the 1.5-million-dekatherm-per-day-capacity pipe is under contract. FERC dismissed that concern and others, including from the Environmental Protection Agency that the environmental impact statement didn't adequately address the pipeline's potential impact on greenhouse-gas emissions. "The impacts of natural-gas production are not reasonably foreseeable," FERC said.

Developers still need state and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits before construction can begin. The pipeline is expected to be finished next year.