Last November the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) signaled a project by TransCanada called the Portland XPress Project (PXP) would soon get a final approval, by giving the project a favorable environmental review (see FERC Grants Portland XPress Project Environmental Approval). Not even three months later, FERC has just given final approval for the project to begin.
PXP is a project to increase the capacity of TransCanada’s Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS), a 295-mile pipeline that spans New England from the Canadian border to pipeline connections in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. No, TransCanada is not proposing to build any new pipelines as part of their plan. In fact, there is very little construction in PXP.
Phases I & II, last time we checked, were under construction. TransCanada filed for Phase III in June. Last November FERC issued a favorable environmental assessment (EA) for Phase III of the project, which is prelude to issuing a final approval.
TransCanada filed Phase I of PXP on April 20, requesting permission to begin flowing an extra 39.8 million cubic feet (MMcf) of natural gas from Pittsburg, NH, to Westbrook, ME, and to increase the flow from and to Canada. In Phase II, filed in May, TransCanada asked FERC for permission to flow an extra 11.3 MMcf from Westbrook, ME, to Dracut, MA (see TransCanada Asks FERC to Expand Capacity on New England Pipe).
Phase III, filed in June, outlines plans to add an additional compressor unit at an existing compressor station along with a few other bits and bobs. And now Phase III is fully, officially, approved–with Johnny One Note, Dick Glick, dissenting. Glick now votes against every single pipeline project because, he says, the commission doesn’t take into consideration mythical man-made global warming:
Today’s order authorizes the expansion of Portland Natural Gas Transmission System’s Portland Xpress Project (Project), which will increase its natural gas pipeline capacity to serve local gas distribution markets and support growing demand in the northeast region. I am dissenting in part from today’s order because the Commission once again fails to adequately consider the Project’s impact on climate change in finding that the application before us is consistent with the public interest. The Commission refuses to quantify, disclose, and consider how the reasonably foreseeable indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by the Project will contribute to climate
change. In particular, the Commission refuses to evaluate whether the Project’s contribution to the harms caused by climate change is significant. As a result of those failures, today’s order falls well short of our obligations under section 7 of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), leaving me no choice but to dissent in part.
I have at length explained my concerns with the Commission’s stubborn refusal to consider a project’s potential impact on climate change in several recent proceedings and will not rehash them all here. Nevertheless, it is important to highlight the fact that the Commission continues to exclude climate change from playing any meaningful role in its decisionmaking process. In particular, the Commission here refuses to consider the indirect emissions from the Project or to make any effort to consider whether the Project’s reasonably foreseeable GHG emissions are significant, as the law requires. The failure to conduct that analysis prevents the Commission from seriously addressing the Project’s potential contribution to climate change, which is a necessary step in evaluating whether the Project is consistent with the public interest. That is a far cry from what good government and the law demand.
Glick is the stubborn fool. Trump should remove him from the commission immediately because he refuses to discharge his duties as a commissioner.
While we find it good news that capacity throughout the PNGTS will expand, as we reported last week the distressing news is that TransCanada’s ultimate plan is not to fill that extra capacity with Marcellus/Utica gas, but with Western Canadian gas (see TransCanada Plans to Move Western Canadian Gas into New England). With PXP now well on its way to completion, TransCanada revealed its ultimate plan by announcing the Westbrook XPress project just last week–a $100 million expansion project for the PNGTS system that will work hand-in-glove with the PXP expansion to deliver Canadian gas into New England. Ugh.
Here’s FERC’s approval for Phase III of PXP:
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