As the Biden administration ramps up efforts to include consideration of project greenhouse gas emissions impacts in policymaking, a March 24 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission action follows a week-earlier federal court ruling that show a fluctuating path toward finalizing the carbon effect rules. 

At its monthly meeting, FERC said that two new project approval policies adopted in February—to consider environmental justice issues and impacts of greenhouse gas emissions in certifying new interstate natural gas infrastructure—now will be “drafts” subject to public comment.

The change follows extensive pushback on the policy from industry and some in Congress.

But FERC's new stance follows a March 16 US appeals court ruling that overruled a lower court in saying the federal government could factor in carbon emission impacts in rulemaking and project reviews.

The agency received more than 38,000 comments, said Chairman Richard Glick. FERC intent had been “to provide a clearer framework for how the commission intends to pursue a more legally durable approach,” Glick noted.

However, after discussions with pipeline and LNG companies, the feedback was that “the policy statements raised additional questions that could benefit from further clarification,” he said.

In its draft project review policy, FERC clarified that only applications filed after the agency issues final guidance will be affected, not those already awaiting decisions. The commission also approved three gas pipeline projects.

Comments on the draft policy statements will be accepted until April 25, and replies to those comments are due May 25.