Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sierra Club attorneys argue against Sabal Trail gas pipeline at DC Circuit Court of Appeals

Guest Post by Lena Moffitt, Director of Sierra Club's Dirty Fuels Campaign:

Sierra Club attorney Elly Benson (right) speaks to the press
after the Court of Appeals hearing on the Sabal Trail pipeline.
Sierra Club Environmental Law Program Attorney Elly Benson did a bang-up job representing the Sierra Club this morning (4/18/17) before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.  Elly argued our case against FERC's approval of the Sabal Trail gas pipeline (which would run from AL across GA to FL to feed Duke and Florida Power and Light's gas power plants). She highlighted the need for FERC to include an assessment of the downstream greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project, to better assess the environmental justice impacts of the project, and to better explain why the project backers received the ample 14.5% rate of return on equity. 

The three judge panel of Justices Brown, Rogers and Griffith asked thoughtful and detailed questions, having clearly scrutinized the case. They asked about FERC's resistance to using the tools at hand to calculate the ghg impact, and strongly questioned FERC's process for granting a high rate of return for the project's backers. 

Judge Rogers said at one point to the FERC lawyer, regarding their need to assess the full climate impacts of the project, "So, FERC just doesn't have to do it's duty because it thinks someone else will?" Not to press our luck, but it was hard not to get up and cheer when the Justice asked that question!

We expect a ruling in a few months time. Fingers crossed.