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Birdsboro gas line approved on heels of Sabal Trail

16 Mar 2018, 5.28 pm GMT

Birdsboro gas line approved on heels of Sabal Trail

Houston, 16 March (Argus) — The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)'s reauthorization of the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline project paved the way for the regulatory body to approve DTE Midstream Appalachia's Birdsboro pipeline project yesterday, despite dissenting opinions from two Democratic commissioners.

The commission's reapproval yesterday of the 1.1 Bcf/d (31mn m³/d) Sabal Trail pipeline came ahead of a court-ordered deadline that would have forced that project to shut down because of flaws in how FERC analyzed its downstream greenhouse gas emissions. FERC has since estimated downstream emissions but declined to say what effects they would have on climate change.

Democratic commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick have faulted the agency on how it responded on Sabal Trail.

FERC has relied on the same logic it used to reapprove Sabal Trail in its approval of the Birdsboro project to avoid considering downstream emissions, LaFleur and Glick said yesterday in a joint statement.

The relatively small Birdsboro project would boost flows by just 76mn cf/d from an interconnection with Texas Eastern Transmission to a new gas-fired electricity generating facility in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. The expansion includes 14 miles (23km) of new 12-inch diameter pipeline and is scheduled to start up in the third quarter.

Despite the project's small footprint, LaFleur and Glick said the commission declined to consider the significance of the project's environmental impacts.

"We disagree with the commission's conclusion that the social cost of carbon is not an appropriate and meaningful tool for estimating a specific project's impacts on informing the commission's analysis of the project," they said.

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