FERC Continues Role As Rubber Stamp in Approving Two New LNG Facilities

Rio Grande LNG, Rio Bravo Pipeline, and Texas LNG Lack Full Environmental Analyses and Threaten Loc

Washington, DC - Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission again acted as a rubber stamp for the fossil fuel industry in issuing a 3:1 approval of two liquified gas (LNG) export terminals, Texas LNG, Rio Grande LNG and the associated Rio Bravo Pipeline, despite not adequately evaluating the environmental impacts of the projects and amidst widespread community and environmental justice concerns. Commissioner Clements dissented from these orders stating that the “commission has created an incomplete and inadequate record.” Sierra Club will seek a rehearing of these approvals. 

In 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that FERC failed to conduct an adequate analysis of the climate and environmental justice impacts of Rio Grande LNG and Texas LNG, violating both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Natural Gas Act. FERC never released an updated analysis. 

“For nearly a decade, our community has made it clear to FERC that we oppose Rio Grande LNG, Rio Bravo pipeline, and Texas LNG because this is environmental racism,” said Rebekah Hinojosa, Gulf Coast Campaign Representative for Sierra Club. “The FERC and fossil fuel corporations are forcing dangerous gas plants on the Rio Grande Valley that do nothing to help our community so fossil fuel corporations can profit. We are disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised, that FERC has failed us again by conducting a haphazard review of Texas LNG and Rio Grande LNG and by deciding to move forward with these destructive gas projects that will destroy some of our remaining wildlife habitat, be the biggest polluters in our poor community, and raise energy prices for families across the country. We're not backing down. FERC will hear our outrage.”

Texas LNG, Rio Grande LNG, and the Rio Bravo Pipeline have plans to build on lands that are sacred to the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. Texas LNG threatens the destruction of Garcia Pasture, a village and burial sites on the ancestral lands of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, a recognized heritage site by the National Parks Service and the World Monuments Fund.

“The Court sent Rio Grande LNG and Texas LNG back to FERC for a review because these gas projects are cutting corners to try and build on our sacred lands. FERC did a piss poor job, once again, of reviewing the dangers that LNG will bring to our people: pollution, risks of explosions, and destruction of our sacred sites,” said Carrizo Comecrudo Tribal Chairman Juan Mancias. “Neither FERC nor the LNG companies have ever consulted with the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. FERC is promoting and perpetuating the sacrifice zones that come with short sighted colonialism.” 

FERC recently hosted an environmental justice roundtable discussion where serious concerns were raised regarding how the agency has previously factored environmental justice issues into decisions around LNG and other gas projects. In her dissent, Clements noted that the approval of these projects is a departure from the lessons learned in that forum less than a month ago. The approvals “create a lose-lose situation,” Clements said, noting “procedural corner cutting.” She continued, “It is a loss for the potentially impacted communities who haven't had a chance to comment on the proceedings.” 

On top of environmental justice concerns, these projects have been riddled with financial problems and other delays. Just a few weeks ago, after years of campaigning by activists in the US and Europe, French bank Société Générale announced they were withdrawing financial support for Rio Grande LNG because the project goes against their climate change policy. This decision came shortly after NextDecade, owner of Rio Grande LNG, announced that it is delaying final investment decision (FID) for the project until the summer, despite the fact they have already begun clear cutting land

If built, Rio Grande LNG will be the biggest polluter in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) region, damage critical habitats such as the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge for endangered species such as the ocelot, and pollute largely low-income and Latinx and immigrant communities. All of the communities that are directly impacted by the projects – Port Isabel, South Padre Island, Laguna Vista, and Long Island Village have passed anti-LNG resolutions.

Rio Grande LNG and Texas LNG would emit as much GHG annually as 50 coal plants. These are giant carbon bombs that would undermine the Biden Administration’s and global climate goals. These approvals follow on the heels of the Biden Administration greenlighting other massive, polluting fossil fuel projects, including ConocoPhillips' Willow project and Alaska LNG. Texas LNG and Rio Grande LNG projects were approved despite their impacts on communities.  

FERC also approved construction of the Driftwood LNG pipeline project, Lines 200 and 300, in Louisiana during today’s monthly meeting. Tellurian, the company behind Driftwood LNG and this pipeline system, continues to face significant uncertainty as it struggles to secure contracts and the financial backing needed for construction.

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.