WASHINGTON, D.C., July 26, 2023 — The Niskanen Center filed its joint opening brief on behalf of clients in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of the Regional Energy Access Project (REAE), along with other environmental groups. The brief asserts that FERC ignored the state of New Jersey’s findings that not only does it not need the additional gas capacity of the proposed project, but the project will actually harm New Jersey consumers. Niskanen represents the lead petitioner, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, other environmental conservation groups, and an affected landowner.
“The Natural Gas Act requires that FERC protect consumers against corporate abuse and encourage the orderly development of needed gas infrastructure,” says Niskanen chief counsel Megan Gibson. She adds,“ Overbuilding unneeded gas infrastructure while hamstringing states from being able to meet their legally-mandated energy efficiency goals is anything but orderly.”
The potential construction and operation of REAE includes natural gas pipeline and compressor station infrastructure in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. When the project was proposed to FERC, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities had already initiated a proceeding to determine whether additional gas capacity was needed. They found that New Jersey does not need any additional gas capacity to serve consumers in the state, including during peak winter demand.
FERC was well aware of this fact when it approved the project, opting to disregard New Jersey’s clear conclusion that it does not need the gas and additional evidence that REAE would hurt New Jersey consumers. What’s more, building unneeded fossil fuel infrastructure hampers New Jersey’s goal of reaching 100% clean energy by 2050.
“FERC is hamstringing states that do the difficult, resource-intensive work of analyzing whether or not such infrastructure is needed for their energy demands—plus running roughshod over state orders governing utilities in the process,” says Gibson. “In other words, FERC prioritized corporate interests over that of the public.”
Read the full brief here.
The Niskanen Center is a 501(c)(3) advocacy organization established in 2014 to change public policy through direct engagement in the policymaking process.