The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is officially accounting for climate change in its pipeline environmental reviews after a major court defeat last month.
The commission issued an updated draft supplemental environmental review on Wednesday after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said it must account for downstream greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas power plants in pipeline permit decisions.
FERC had not accounted for the emissions from a power plant, or another secondary source, in permitting a new pipeline project since the commission was created 40 years ago.
The new draft supplement now "estimates the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the [Southeast Market Pipelines] Project's customers' downstream facilities," according to a commission statement.
The new draft also describes "the methodology used to determine these estimates, discusses context for understanding the magnitude of these emissions, and addresses the value of using the social cost of carbon tool," according to FERC. The social cost of carbon metric is something the Trump administration is trying to remove from regulations.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the agency to redo its environmental review in responding to litigation against the agency.
FERC oversees the wholesale electric markets and permits interstate natural gas and pipeline projects as part of its principal duties. It is considered by industry to be a key agency in achieving many of President Trump's infrastructure goals and energy dominance agenda.
The environmental community took the decision as a major win in trying to roll back pipeline development by having to demonstrate the far-ranging impacts of burning fossil fuels. The ruling would be used to fight and delay pipelines based on whether or not the commission adequately addressed greenhouse gas emissions that are secondary to a pipeline's construction.
Many scientists blame the burning of fossil fuels for causing the Earth's temperature to rise and accounting for climate change.
FERC has not made a decision on whether it will seek to overturn the ruling in court.
"The Commission has not announced what it plans to do," said FERC spokeswoman Mary O'Driscoll in a statement.
The draft environmental impact review will be available for public comment until Nov. 20. It is not a final action.