This article chronicles how natural gas has replaced coal as today’s energy dilemma. The pipeline wars illustrate landowners’ concern with special treatment for industry seeking to condemn lands, while some states and the public object to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC or Commission) approach to approving new pipeline projects, or the Commission’s assessment of GHG emissions associated with project development.
Part II examines the pipeline wars in their historical context, portraying the rise of natural gas regulation, its increasing dominance as a fuel source, its associated environmental consequences, and the marked differences in how the Obama and Trump administrations have treated natural gas. Part III describes and analyzes three principal matters collectively displaying the challenges confronting the industry: (1) the Commission’s approach toward conditionally approving pipelines before states can ensure construction activities will comply with the Clean Water Act (CWA); (2) the Commission’s willingness to allow pipeline condemnation proceedings to occur before landowners have an opportunity to thoroughly air their concerns; and (3) FERC’s unwillingness to examine the indirect upstream and downstream effects from increased GHG emissions associated with approving a pipeline. This Part also discusses FERC’s 2018 Notice of Inquiry, soliciting input on the Commission’s pipeline policies. Next, Part IV addresses the principal, looming questions in the pipeline wars: whether and how the Commission ought to reexamine the need for new natural gas pipeline infrastructure. Major energy transitions present major challenges, and the resultant follies from these efforts abound. If we fail to avoid yet another folly, our new natural gas infrastructure could become either a shackle, impeding a zero-carbon energy future, or a bridge to nowhere.
A Bridge to Nowhere? Our Energy Transition and the Natural Gas Pipeline Wars,
Mich. J. Envtl. & Admin. L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjeal/vol9/iss2/3