The U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming term seems less focused on energy-related cases, despite attorneys seeing a bevy of issues worth the Court’s attention.

The Court is currently down to eight justices who are split along ideological lines, and legal experts don't expect them to tackle any significant energy issues anytime soon. And there are plenty of issues that broad Supreme Court guidance would be welcomed, from how climate change can be factored into federal reviews of energy infrastructure projects to drawing clear lines between state and federal authority over the nation's electricity system.

Climate change wasn't on the radar when the National Environmental Policy Act — the law that guides federal agencies' environmental review of their actions — was enacted in 1970. Today, it's front and center in environmental challenges to energy projects, namely FERC's review of pipelines and liquefied natural gas export projects.

FERC has been accused of not adequately considering a project's indirect impacts on activities such as increased natural gas drilling and its cumulative effects on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The commission has maintained that evaluating those impacts in relation to a single project are either too speculative or can't be adequately evaluated with the current tools available — positions that, to this point, have been backed by appellate courts. However, there's no overarching consensus as to where climate change and greenhouse gas emissions fit within a NEPA analysis, experts say.

"How does an agency blend in the greenhouse gas implications of its actions? How far does it have to go in considering that?" Ballard Spahr LLP environmental partner Brendan Collins asked.