Last Minute Bush Rule On Endangered Species Could Speed Gas Projects

By Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor | February 2009 Vol. 64 No.2

When FERC published the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on Jordan Cove this fall, it argued that the project is “not likely to adversely affect” endangered species, a conclusion contested by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. “We don’t agree with it,” says Andrew Orahoske, staff attorney for the Center. The state of Oregon has raised an issue over the potential significant destruction of eelgrass, an important habitat for salmon, among other fish. Orahoske says FERC’s failure to get input from the FWS and NMFS would probably result in a lawsuit if FERC went ahead and approved the project.

When she appeared before a FERC workshop on pipeline infrastructure last November on behalf of INGAA, Claire Burum, senior vice president of regulatory and government affairs, NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage, said the industry was pleased with how quickly FERC considered applications for new pipeline construction. She added, though, that natural resources permitting by other federal agencies who sometimes have a say in FERC pipeline decisions “can be frustrating at times, and that has to evolve to a different level for us to be successful.”