Federal Regulator Greenlights Louisiana LNG Terminal, Pipeline

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s 2-1 approval gives tentative green-light for Venture Global LNG to proceed with proposed Calcasieu projects.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 27 approved a proposal to build an export terminal in Louisiana designed to ship up to 20 million metric tons of liquified natural gas (LNG) a year to overseas buyers’ The proposal had been pending for nearly a year.

The green-light comes after the Biden administration in January imposed a “pause” on issuing new LNG export permits as part of a newly fashioned “public interest” review process that won’t be completed until at least January 2025.

FERC approved in a 2–1 vote, an order granting Venture Global LNG, Inc. a tentative green-light to proceed with its proposed $10 billion CP2 LNG export terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, and CP Express 85-mile pipeline.

Chair Willie Phillips, a Democrat, and Commissioner Mark Christie, a Republican, endorsed the order, which affirms FERC’s July 2023 final environmental impact statement (EIS) approval, without comment.

Commissioner Allison Clements, a Democrat in her final meeting as a member of the independent commission appointed by the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, opposed the order.

Ms. Clements, in a statement she read into the record, said the EIS does not adequately address the projects’ potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts, claiming they would emit into the atmosphere the “greenhouse gas” equivalent of 1.8 million gas-fueled cars.

Since last July, she said, “there have been important developments that should have been addressed in the supplemental EIS. Instead, the commission relies on updated air pollution impact modeling submitted by Venture Global itself, without giving the public access to the underlying data or any opportunity to comment.”

Ms. Clements said “these and other deficiencies violate multiple statutes and preclude me from finding either project is in, or consistent with, the public interest.”

“Venture Global applauds the commission and FERC staff for their independent and thorough review and approval of CP2 LNG,” Venture Global LNG CEO Mike Sabel said in a statement in response to the ruling.

“This project will be critical to global energy security and supporting the energy transition,” he added, “as well as provide jobs and economic growth across Louisiana and the United States.”

The order specifically grants CP2 LNG’s request under Natural Gas Act sections 3 and 7, authorizing it to “site, construct, and operate” its proposed CP2 LNG export terminal. It also grants CP Express’s request for a certificate of public convenience and necessity under NGA’s section 7 to “construct and operate” its proposed pipeline.

Hurdles remain. Venture Global LNG must now secure a non-Free Trade Agreement (FTA) export authorization from the U.S, Department of Energy (DOE) to proceed.

The Biden administration has “paused” LNG export authorizations until the DOE assesses if such shipments overseas are in the “public interest,” an edict that has drawn frequent fire from Republicans and some Democrats in hearings all year.

DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm has repeatedly assured critics during congressional hearings that standards for the “public interest review:” should be in place by January, when LNG export permits can again be processed.

“We look forward to a swift non-FTA approval from the U.S. Department of Energy for this project that is critical to both global and national security,” Mr. Sabel said.

Sempra and ConocoPhillips announce strategic partnership for Port Arthur LNG on Texas Gulf Coast. (Courtesy of Sempra)
Sempra and ConocoPhillips announce strategic partnership for Port Arthur LNG on Texas Gulf Coast. (Courtesy of Sempra)

The proposed 546-acre CP2 LNG project will have the export capacity of 20 million metric tons a year with a peak capacity of 24 million tons a year.

It features four “full containment” LNG storage tanks and two loading docks for LNG carriers on Monkey Island between the Calcasieu Ship Channel and Calcasieu Pass in Cameron Parish, Louisiana.

It would be Venture Global LNG’s second project in Cameron Parish. With the adjacent Calcasieu Pass LNG plant—also still in its commissioning phase—the company says it will invest $10 billion infrastructure improvements into the developments.

CP Express’s proposed 48-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline will span 85 miles between Jasper County, Texas, and Calcasieu Parish. It includes a six-mile, 24-inch-diameter lateral spur linking the CP2 LNG terminal “to the existing natural gas pipeline grid in east Texas and southwest Louisiana.”

It ideally wants to begin exporting in 2026, depending how quickly it can break ground.

Venture Global LNG has agreements to export LNG to as many as 20 countries, including Ukraine. It has 20-year sales and purchase pacts with ExxonMobil, Chevron, Jera, New Fortress Energy, Inpex, China Gas, SEFE, and EnBW, it maintains.

In its project description, Venture Global LNG maintains “Safety, environmental, land-use compatibility, constructability, environmental justice, and cultural resources were all evaluated” in applying FERC’s “routing guidelines.”

Proponents maintain sending more U.S. natural gas abroad reduces foreign dependence on other countries, including Russia, for natural gas. They say increasing LNG reduces reliance on “dirtier” fuel sources, such as coal.

Opponents argue exporting LNG expands usage of a carbon-emitting fuel and would exacerbate climate change, calling coal-vs-LNG comparisons “greenwashing.”

Climate and Energy Justice called the project “a carbon bomb with lifecycle emissions 20 times worse than the [oil drilling] Willow Project in Alaska.”

Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth were among critics that noted the LNG project would benefit China, noting more than 10 percent of its capacity has been reserved by China Gas. The LNG imports will not replace China’s reliance on coal, they argue.

Food & Water Watch called on President Joe Biden to enforce his export pause and on the DOE to complete its “public interest review” swiftly so the projects can be denied.

“If President Biden is truly serious about standing up for environmental justice and tackling fossil fuel-driven climate chaos, he must take substantive, permanent action to halt new oil and gas extraction and exports, and divert greater resources to ramping up production of clean, renewable wind and solar energy–now,” Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh said in a statement.


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