Courtney Naquin, email@example.com
Gabby Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org
Plaquemines Parish, LA - A new report on the potential impacts of Plaquemines LNG was released this morning in a set of joint comments from Sierra Club and Healthy Gulf to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which urge the agency to deny the facility’s request to produce an additional 3.2 MTPA (million metric tons per year) of fracked gas. The organizations also argue that FERC must prepare a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that fully analyzes the facility’s potential impact on the environment, climate, and environmental justice communities in the construction of the Plaquemines LNG export terminal.
The report, Safety and Environmental Review of Plaquemines LNG, was commissioned by Sierra Club and developed by Dr. Ivor van Heerden, the former director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes. Dr. Van Heerden was also one of the key investigators following Hurricane Katrina who identified structural flaws in the levees surrounding New Orleans, which broke after the catastrophic storm in 2005 and caused thousands of deaths across the city.
Plaquemines LNG is designed to be one of the largest fracked gas export terminals in the United States. If the expansion is approved, the total greenhouse emissions from burning the fracked gas would be roughly equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 42 coal plants or 35.8 million cars. Increasing the facility's capacity is considered a major federal action, which requires FERC under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to both re-open the original 2019 EIS and conduct a new EIS; and new data released since FERC first approved the Plaquemines LNG facility—like Dr. van Heerden’s report—requires FERC to revisit and supplement its previous findings.
According to the report, Venture Global’s proposed 26-foot storm wall surrounding the facility would likely over-top with water during major storm surges, posing significant risk that the site will be inundated. If the constructed site floods, there would be a high probability of runoff of landfill and toxic chemicals from Plaquemines LNG that would be carried off the site and into homes, businesses, farmland, and fragile coastal wetlands. The facility’s proposed capacity expansion will exacerbate the risk and impact of such a catastrophic event.
In its environmental review, FERC must consider climate change and sea level rise, two issues that are uniquely significant to Plaquemines Parish and neighboring river communities of South Louisiana. Southern Louisiana is considered one of the most endangered areas in the country because of increased frequency and severity of hurricanes, flooding, and land loss that has been caused by climate change and industry activity. The proposed site for Plaquemines LNG itself is barely 5 feet above sea level and was flooded during Ida, and stayed flooded for weeks after the storm had passed. Moreover, any emergencies at Plaquemines LNG could shut down Highway 23—the only evacuation route in the area—placing surrounding communities in serious jeopardy.
Earlier this year, FERC released a strategic plan that is supposed to emphasize environmental justice and climate change when evaluating fracked gas projects. This should be especially relevant to Plaquemines LNG, since the export facility is located near historical Black and Indigenous communities, including Ironton and West Pointe La Hache. Southern Louisiana was ravaged by Hurricane Ida and many communities still haven’t fully recovered from Ida’s impacts. Additionally, Plaquemines Parish has already faced numerous industrial disasters, including the BP Deepwater Disaster and the Taylor Energy Oil Spill, which has irreparably damaged the local fishing and shrimping economy.
Jessi Parfait, United Houma Nation Member and the Southeast Louisiana Campaign Representative for Louisiana, issued the following statement:
“If FERC is true to their word in taking environmental justice seriously in their decision making process, then they have to reevaluate every decision they’ve made regarding Plaquemines LNG. Plaquemines LNG is a prime example of environmental racism and injustice. You do not need to be an environmentalist, a climate expert, or a federal agency to know about the reality of Southern Louisiana. We are ground zero for climate change and coastal land loss. We should be doing everything we can to mitigate climate change disasters, providing reparations to communities like Ironton and the many Indigenous communities in the region, and putting efforts towards environmental restoration. With Plaquemines LNG and the inevitability of more hurricanes, FERC, Venture Global, and all those investing in this project are ensuring that vulnerable communities will be displaced from their homes. Louisiana deserves so much better than this.”
Naomi Yoder, staff scientist at Healthy Gulf, issued the following statement:
“Venture Global Plaquemines LNG isn’t only unnecessary, it will be a detriment to nearby communities, spewing tons of air pollution and greenhouse gasses every day. Furthermore, the associated highway developments will cut off the town of Ironton from Highway 23 and any reasonable evacuation route. Plus, the terminal and the vessels that carry frozen (liquified) gas are explosions waiting to happen. The proposed expansion is especially unnecessary, as any expansion wouldn’t come online in an appropriate amount of time to address the European gas crisis. Lower Plaquemines Parish deserves more than a polluting, greenhouse gas emissions factory - the Parish needs recovery help from Hurricane Ida, and a massive terminal that eats up valuable wetlands is not recovery help. Those very wetlands also protect people from impacts from future storms. We ask FERC to deny this authorization to Venture Global Plaquemines LNG.”
Louisa Eberle, attorney with Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign, issued the following statement:
“NEPA review is meant to ensure agencies look before they leap, and FERC must complete a robust environmental review to get a clear picture about how Plaquemines LNG will harm surrounding communities and ecosystems. Mounting evidence shows that the Plaquemines LNG facility and the proposed expansion pose significant threats to public health and the environment, and FERC should deny this request to expand capacity at a plant that is already in the crosshairs of major hurricanes.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.