The chances for new fossil fuel infrastructure in the United States have worsened as authorities tightened Environmental criteria for natural gas pipelines, exacerbating the industry’s troubles. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decided on Thursday to alter the certification process for new gas pipelines, allowing for deeper scrutiny of the economic necessity for projects as well as their impacts on the environment, communities, and landowners for the first time in more than two decades.
New pipeline approvals, which are currently subject to a lengthy review and frequently face legal challenges, will be substantially more difficult to get as a result of the revisions. It’s a victory for activists who have complained that too many pipelines are being approved, locking in a long-term dependency on fossil fuels. The FERC’s decision is the latest setback for pipeline developers, who have found themselves in the middle of a fight between the fossil fuel industry and Environmental.
Meanwhile, despite being more than 90% built, the future of the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, which will transport gas across Virginia and West Virginia, has been called into question. One of its owners, the utility NextEra Energy, announced on Friday that it was re-evaluating its investment in the project after a federal appeals court threw out two major permits, resulting in a $800 million impairment penalty. Last year, NextEra wrote down their stake by $1.2 billion.