What Stands in the Way Of Texas LNG?
In December 2018, Texas celebrated its first LNG shipment from Cheniere Energy’s Port of Corpus Christi facility, officially marking the state’s status as an LNG exporter. Since then, a number of projects have been gathering pace to fully tap into the Lone Star state’s potential in the natural gas market, including the three planned in the Port of Brownsville: Rio Grande LNG, Texas LNG, and Annova LNG facilities. However, even with abundant resources, new facilities being built and others in the planning stages, Texas LNG export plans might run into trouble. What could hold it back?
In January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted legal status to Save RGV From LNG, an environmental activist group, to fight the Texas LNG and other two projects in the Port of Brownsville. The coalition of shrimpers, fishermen, environmentalists and community groups now have the right to request rehearings of FERC orders and can file legal challenges in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This situation could come to a head in March when FERC should release the final environmental impact statement for Texas LNG with a final permit decision expected to follow in June.
The campaign to challenge the LNG projects in South Texas was spurred by the first draft of the environmental impact statement, released in October 2018 by FERC. It reported that the Texas LNG project along with Rio Grande LNG/Rio Bravo Pipeline could both have a detrimental impact on the environment, especially with the combined effects of all three LNG projects in the same area. However, the planned projects are taking measures to ensure environmental protection by using top-of-the-line technologies to help minimize air pollution and create beneficial opportunities for the local community and the Port itself.
Strongly believing in the positive impact of the projects, the oil and natural gas industry-funded group Texans For Natural Gas has launched an online petition as a counterpoint to Save RGV From LNG efforts. It aims to raise support for the three Port of Brownsville LNG projects that have already gained approval from politicians, and business leaders. The possibilities to export massive amounts of LNG to established and developing markets and with a strategic geographical location, Texas LNG projects could bring significant positives to the U.S. LNG market and the country’s economy. Only time will tell whether challenges from environmentalists will stop the development of these prospective projects in the area.