FERC must redo environmental review of LNG terminals in Texas: Court

FERC rio grande lng

FERC must redo the analysis of LNG terminals in Texas, after it failed to conduct properly environmental reviews for them; a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday; and Reuters reported.

Firstly, the court’s ruling came as a victory to low-income communities in the state; and for environmental groups that appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; claiming that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision (FERC) had violated the National Environmental Policy Act, with deficient analyses of the Texas and Rio Grande LNG terminals.

Secondly, FERC chairman Richard Glick, who had dissented on the projects’ approval, said to Reuters. “This decision clearly demonstrates that the Commission has the authority; and also, the obligation to meaningfully analyze and consider the impacts from greenhouse gas emissions; and also, the impacts to Environmental Justice communities.”

Thirdly, a Texas LNG spokesperson said the ruling was a reminder of the importance of environmental justice. While Matt Schatzman, the CEO of NextDecade Corp; which is developing Rio Grande LNG, said in statement that he was pleased the court “affirmed” the project’s authorization.

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FERC must consider environmental justice before approving projects: judges

Moreover, Jennifer Richards, a lawyer with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid; who represents Vecinos para el Bienestar de la Comunidad Costera, a community group, said. “Before the Commission can say these projects are in the public interest; it needs to “evaluate environmental justice impacts.”

In addition, this group was one that had sued FERC last year, over its separate authorizations to construct and operate the facilities. The group claims that FERC violated NEPA because it anchored its authorizations for the projects in failed environmental reviews; particularly regarding the greenhouse gas emissions that the facilities would emit.

Furthermore, U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Wilkins agreed that FERC “failed to respond to significant opposing viewpoints; concerning the adequacy of its analyses of the projects’ greenhouse gas emissions.”

Finally, the projects locate at Cameron County, which is 89% latino/Hispanic; with 30% of its residents living below the poverty line. Consequently, Wilkins had the support of Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Srikanth Srinivasan and Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg.

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