July 2022 Vol. 77 No. 7

Washington Watch

Environmental Groups Attempt to Slow LNG Exports to Europe

Stephen Barlas|Washington, D.C. Editor 

Despite President Biden’s commitment to get more U.S. liquid 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 million metric tons per annum (MTPA) to 27.2 MTPA. That LNG is expected to come online in 2024. 

FERC has already approved the 24 MTPA capacity and an affiliated Texas Eastern 30-mile Gator Express pipeline. But in March 2022, Plaquemines filed an amendment to up that amount to 27.2 MTPA. 

In opposing the application, Sierra and Healthy Gulf argue: “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 to 4 MTPA of LNG. 

“Thus, Sierra Club’s theories about the supposedly limited nature of Europe’s need for U.S. LNG are manifestly disproved by the actual market evidence of Plaquemine LNG’s contracts, and real-world events.” 

Plaquemines’s sister export facility, Calcasieu Pass, started LNG exports this past January. The Department of Energy, in its March report on LNG exports, said four of five Calcasieu exports 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’ 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.” 

Sierra 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, which they view as problematic environmental issues. UC 

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