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Policy Integrity Comments Reflected in FERC’s Order 1977 on Backstop Siting Authority for Transmission Facilities

On May 13, 2024, FERC issued Order 1977 to implement its authority to site transmission facilities that have been rejected (or not acted upon) by states. The Federal Power Act instructs that, among other requirements, these transmission projects must be consistent with the public interest.

In our comments, we asked FERC to clarify that the proposed requirement that applicants estimate reasonably foreseeable emissions for their proposed transmission facilities includes the projects' impacts on power-system emissions, i.e., how power plants would increase or decrease their emissions due to the new transmission capacity. In response, the Commission clarified that these power-sector emissions must be estimated when, based on the factual circumstances, they are reasonably foreseeable. And, consistent with our comments' legal analysis, FERC confirmed its authority to require applicants to submit these and other air quality impacts under the Federal Power Act's backstop siting provision. Similarly, and notwithstanding comments to the contrary, FERC agreed with our and others’ analysis that it has the statutory authority under the Federal Power Act and to also consider environmental justice impacts when exercising backstop siting authority.