OREANDA-NEWS. June 05, 2018. The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved a proposed natural gas lateral off of the Florida Southeast Connection (FSC) pipeline to supply a gas-fired power plant in Florida, despite one commissioner's dissent.

FERC on 30 May approved NextEra Energy's 386mn cf/d (11mn m/d) Okeechobee lateral project, which would connect the company's FSC line to the new 1,600MW gas-fired Okeechobee Clean Energy Center power plant in Okeechobee County, Florida. The power plant is expected to be in service by mid-2019.

The project's approval garnered statements from the commission's two democratic members on the lateral's potential for contributing to downstream greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The commission began considering downstream GHGs following a major court decision last year that ordered FERC to undertake such an analysis of the 1.1 Bcf/d Sabal Trail pipeline in Florida. But FERC's three-member Republican majority last month said the commission would end the practice because of imprecise emissions projections.

Democratic FERC commissioner Cheryl LaFleur released a statement explaining why she concurs with the commission's approval of the Okeechobee project, despite her continued disagreement on the commission's determination that it is unable to discern the significance of downstream GHG.

LaFleur said she found that the project is in the public interest only "after carefully balancing the need for the project and its environmental impacts."

Democratic FERC commissioner Richard Glick dissented from the decision to approve the project, saying the commission cannot conclude that the project is in the public interest without first determining its contribution to climate change.