An Environmental Assessment ( Ea ) For Maryland Gas ' Pipeline Project Violate Nepa?

1497 Words Oct 19th, 2016 6 Pages
QUESTION PRESENTED

Did FERC’s issuance of an Environmental Assessment (EA) and corresponding Finding of no Significant Impact (FONSI) for Maryland Gas’ “400 Line” pipeline project violate NEPA? Should the Sierra Club sue FERC over this issue?

SHORT ANSWER

Yes. FERC’s EA violated NEPA’s requirement to consider the cumulative and indirect impacts of a proposed project. While FERC did consider some indirect impacts of the 400 Line project, FERC failed to analyze the 400 Line in conjunction with two connected pipeline projects: the 500 Line and the 600 Line. FERC’s fragmented analysis violates NEPA’s requirement that environmental review consider “interdependent parts of a larger action” (40 C.F.R. § 1508.25a). Other potential objections to FERC’s EA, including the project’s effects on endangered species and FERC’s failure to analyze certain alternative arrangements, have a smaller and less certain likelihood of legal success. FERC provided a reasoned explanation for most of their choices, and will thus receive generous deference from any reviewing court on those issues. FERC, though, failed to mention either of the two related pipeline projects in the EA, so the Sierra Club will have a strong case that FERC did not meet the requirement, cited in Robertson v. Methow Valley Citizens Council, 490 U.S. 332 (1989), to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of the 400 Line pipeline.

FACTS

See prompt.

DISCUSSION

Does a categorical exclusion (CATEX) apply the 400…
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