Sierra Club Victory Drives Magnolia LNG to Withdraw Key Application to the Department of Energy

November 30, 2023: As a result of Sierra Club’s advocacy to the Department of Energy, the developer of a massive LNG terminal has let its authorization from the Department to export natural gas expire.  Following the Department’s agreement with Sierra Club that the agency should more closely scrutinize Magnolia LNG’s request to extend its deadline to begin export operations, the company withdrew its request for an extension. Magnolia LNG’s authorization to export natural gas expired one day later, on November 30, 2023, because the company failed to export natural gas within the required timeframe. The company’s decision to withdraw its request could be a major setback for the future of Magnolia LNG, as the company has yet to secure the contracts and financing necessary to build the LNG export terminal, is already behind schedule, and will have to reapply for another export authorization in order to proceed. Reapplication will subject the company to another evaluation by the Department of Energy of whether the project is in the public interest.

Magnolia LNG’s decision to withdraw its extension request came after the Department of Energy agreed with Sierra Club and its partners that Magnolia LNG’s request should be subject to the Department’s new policy statement issued on April 21, 2023–setting a much higher bar for companies to obtain an extension. For years, Sierra Club attorneys have been challenging the “public interest determination” standard the DOE uses for approving permits to export gas. Recently, the Environmental Law Program has been challenging the rubber stamping of extensions on these permits when companies have not met deadlines to start construction. Magnolia LNG is the second developer forced to reapply for export authorization as a result of Sierra Club’s legal advocacy, following the Department’s denial of Lake Charles LNG’s extension request.

The Sierra Club and local organizations first challenged Magnolia LNG in 2014. It would be a disaster for the climate and communities in Southwest Louisiana, which is slated to be a liquified natural gas export hub, with 6 proposed and 3 operational export facilities. As proposed, this project would have emitted nearly 700 hundred tons per year of harmful particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds. The project would also contribute to the climate crisis, emitting more than 2.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Local communities warn that the buildout of facilities like Magnolia LNG threatens Louisiana’s thriving commercial fishing industry – the most productive seafood industry in the lower 48 states. The fishing industry employs tens of thousands of people, generates billions of dollars annually, and is an integral part of the state’s heritage, culture, and economy.

Environmental Law Program attorneys, Lisa Diaz, Louisa Eberle, and Nathan Matthews represented Sierra Club, Healthy Gulf, For A Better Bayou, The Vessel Project of Louisiana, and Micah 6:8 Mission in their intervention and protest opposing Magnolia LNG’s extension request.