CLAIM: After federal regulators declined to reconsider permits allowing three major natural gas projects to go forward in Texas at the Port of Brownsville, environmental activists say they plan to file a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Opponents argue that FERC commissioners did not take the combined pollution, noise and other impacts of the projects on neighboring communities and endangered species such as the ocelot, jaguarundi and aplomado falcon.
“These projects would disproportionately impact our already-marginalized Latino community, subject us to increased air pollution, and threaten our local tourism economy,” Sierra Club Brownsville organizer Rebekah Hinojosa said in a statement. “With this decision, FERC has completely dismissed those concerns and signaled that we do not have the same environmental rights as other people. We will not stop fighting to ensure that these dangerous facilities are never built.”
“FERC is legally required to evaluate the impacts of this proposed facility and the other two nearby facilities on low-income and minority communities,” Texas RioGarnde Legal Aid Attorney Erin Gaines said in a statement. “With this decision, they have failed to live up to that responsibility.”
As the Houston Chronicle noted, “Over the past week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission tabled requests filed by the Sierra Club, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and other opponents to reconsider the agency’s Nov. 21 decision to issue permits for the Texas LNG and Annova LNG. The agency denied the request to reconsider a permit for Rio Grande LNG in a 2-1 vote on Thursday that also turned down a request to halt any construction activities.”
When activists announced they were asking FERC to reconsider the permits, we laid out the environmental and economic benefits of three proposed liquefied natural gas export terminals at the Port of Brownsville.
The economic benefits of the project are clear:
- With these projects, Texas is set to become the third largest exporter of liquified natural gas in the world, according to The Hayride.
- The Brownsville projects represent more than $38 billion of private investment, according to the Houston Chronicle.
- The projects will support thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of high-paying permanent jobs in an area critically in need of those jobs.
- Natural gas is expected to be exported to the Caribbean, Central America, Asia and Europe – providing a reliable supply of energy from the United States, rather than depending on geopolitical adversaries.
The environmental benefits are significant:
- Nearly one-fifth of total U.S. emissions savings since 2010 have been the result of coal-to-gas switching, according to the analysis, according to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
- Globally, the IEA said more than 500 million tons of CO2 emissions have been avoided in the past decade as a result of increased use of natural gas.
- The U.S. Energy Information Administration says energy-related carbon emissions are about 13 percent below 2005 levels as a result of increased use of natural gas for power generation.
- This trend is expected to continue, with the EIA predicting natural gas to help drive a 2 percent decrease in energy-related carbon emissions.