July 2022, Vol. 249, No. 7


Environmental Groups Attempt to Slow LNG Exports to Europe

By Stephen Barlas, Contributing Editor, Washington, D.C.

Despite Biden’s commitment to get more U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG) to Europe, environmental groups are trying to convince FERC to slow or kill export LNG facilities and pipelines that serve them on mostly environmental grounds.  

The Sierra Club and Healthy Gulf, a Louisiana-centered advocacy organization, want FERC to block a request from Venture Global Plaquemines LNG to increase its peak achievable liquefaction capacity from 24 mtpa to 27.2 mtpa of LNG. That LNG is expected to come online in 2024.  

FERC has already approved the 24-mtpa capacity and an affiliated Texas Eastern 30-mile (48-km) Gator Express pipeline. But in March, Plaquemines filed an amendment to increase that amount to 27.2 mtpa.  

In opposing the application, the Sierra Club and Healthy Gulf argued: 

“But to be clear: the proposed increase is not needed, or even 
helpful, for decreasing Europe’s reliance on Russian gas. Although the European Commission has asked for additional gas deliveries this year, Europe does not need additional gas in the medium or long term. The International Energy Agency has concluded that heat pumps, building efficiency, and similar measures can significantly reduce the European Union’s gas use…” 

But Plaquemines has told FERC that the Polish Oil and Gas Company, which just had its gas supplies cut off by Gazprom, will be its single biggest customer with a commitment of 4 mtpa of LNG.  

Plaquemines’s sister export facility, Calcasieu Pass, started LNG exports in January. The Department of Energy (DOE), in its March report on LNG exports, says four of five Calcasieu exports in March went to Europe, including France, United Kingdom and Italy. 

Sierra and Healthy Gulf also have environmental objections to Texas Eastern’s Venice Extension Project, which would feed the Gator pipeline with gas going to the Plaquemines’s facility.  

The two groups argue the project: “… will not only impact human health and the environment but will adversely impact environmental justice communities within Louisiana. The Project will also destroy wetlands, increase air and noise pollution, and contribute to the climate crisis.” The environmental groups want FERC to prepare a detailed EIS where the groups could more fully detail their opposition. 

The Sierra Club and other groups are also prodding FERC to produce an environmental impact statement for the proposed Commonwealth LNG project and a Cameron LNG expansion project, because of what they view as problematic environmental issues. 

Neither Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of Healthy Gulf, nor Nathan Matthews, an attorney at Sierra, responded to phone calls and emails requesting comment. 

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