For Immediate Release: July 11, 2023
|Grayce McCormick, email@example.com
Environmental Groups Challenge Texas’ Sea Port Oil Terminal in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Sierra Club, on behalf of itself and Center for Biological Diversity, Healthy Gulf, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Turtle Island Restoration Network, filed a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for approving another methane gas export facility – Commonwealth LNG – in Southwest Louisiana. The groups argue that FERC violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Natural Gas Act by approving the polluting project on the basis of the agency’s flawed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which fails to properly analyze project alternatives and arbitrarily concluded that the Commonwealth LNG project poses no environmental justice concerns.
Commonwealth LNG is one of seven proposed LNG, or methane gas, export terminals in Southwest Louisiana. There are already three operational massive LNG export facilities in the region, two of which are expanding, in addition to dozens of petrochemical megaplexes. Many of the communities where these new LNG terminals are proposed are low-income communities of color that are already overburdened with pollution. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s EJScreening Tool, the majority of these terminals are planned in communities that are in the top 25th percentile (i.e., have higher levels than 75 percent of the country) for percentage of people of color, low income population, air toxics cancer risk, and/or air toxics respiratory hazard index.
FERC’s EIS fails to consider the cumulative impacts of building Commonwealth LNG in an area that is already so saturated in LNG export terminals and other polluting industry, while also failing to provide a sufficient analysis of Commonwealth’s singular impacts. If constructed and operated as proposed, Commonwealth LNG would be one of the largest polluters in the Gulf region. Commonwealth LNG would emit between 8.5 and 9.5 million tons per year of greenhouse gasses, and would result in lifecycle emissions equivalent to pollution from that emitted by 14 coal plants yearly, or almost 11 million cars.
Additionally, if constructed, Commonwealth LNG will destroy over 100 acres of wetlands, which are natural and necessary barriers to hurricanes and storm surges along the Louisiana coast. Existing LNG export terminals in Louisiana have already destroyed over 1,065 acres of wetlands. This is a major concern for a hurricane zone such as Southwest Louisiana, which is still recovering from Hurricane Delta and Laura, two hurricanes that passed years ago.
Rebecca McCreary, associate attorney at the Sierra Club, said:
“In its approval of Commonwealth LNG, FERC violated the law by ignoring serious threats to local communities and the environment of southwest Louisiana. It is unacceptable for FERC to claim that this project will not have adverse impacts to environmental justice communities, despite ample evidence that this project will contribute to hazardous air pollution in an already industry-overburdened region.”
John Allaire, a retired environmental engineer and Southwest Louisiana resident, said:
“It is delusional for FERC to say that a project like Commonwealth LNG has no environmental justice impacts. They are ignoring reality. From my home, I can observe LNG tankers from Venture Global, Cameron LNG and Lake Charles LNG, and now Commonwealth LNG is set to be built even closer to my home. We are surrounded by polluting industries. Here in Southwest Louisiana, extractive industry has already consumed our precious coast and paved over wetlands that we, as residents, rely on to absorb floodwaters and protect our homes from storms – which are only getting worse from climate change due to industry pollution. This is a delicate ecosystem that needs more protection. FERC needs to stop catering to the interests of polluting corporations and start prioritizing the health and longevity of Southwest Louisiana.”
James Hiatt, an environmental justice advocate and resident of Southwest Louisiana, said:
“FERC has failed to adequately address the cumulative effects, the community’s safety concerns, or even the necessity of this Commonwealth LNG export terminal. Placing another dangerous gas export terminal directly on this delicate Louisiana coastline does not meaningfully benefit our community in any way. Instead, it promises to be a public health hazard that will destroy vital wetlands and decimate a way of life – solely for the profit of a very few.”
Andrew Whitehurst, the Water Program Director for Healthy Gulf, said:
“Healthy Gulf joins this action in acknowledgement that the residents in Southwest Louisiana and across the Gulf states are confronted every day with the legacy of historical injustices as well as current environmental threats that threaten their health and well-being.”
Joanie Steinhaus, Gulf Program Director, Turtle Island Restoration Network, said:
“Once again FERC did not adequately analyze the full impact from Commonwealth LNG to the community or the environment. The Gulf south is overburdened with air and water pollution, destruction of wetlands, and total disregard for the sensitive coastal habitat. This facility would be one of the largest polluters in the Gulf, impacting numerous species and offering no benefit to the local community.”
Jason Totoiu, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said:
“This LNG facility will cost Louisiana dearly by harming coastal wetlands and inflicting more air pollution on environmental justice communities. We need to move beyond fossil fuels and focus on permanent long-term solutions that address the climate crisis.”
Turtle Island Restoration Network is a global ocean conservation nonprofit with offices in California and Texas whose mission is to inspire and mobilize people around the world to protect marine biodiversity and the oceans that sustain all life on Earth.