Rio Grande Valley LNG Projects Hit With Legal Challenges Over FERC’s Flawed Approvals


Washington, DC – Today, groups filed two federal lawsuits challenging the decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve two liquified gas (LNG) export terminals, Texas LNG, Rio Grande LNG, and the associated Rio Bravo Pipeline. These projects are proposed at the Port of Brownsville in Texas and on lands that are sacred to the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. 

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 reaffirmed the projects in April without adequately addressing the deficiencies identified by the court. 

The lawsuits were filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit by the Sierra Club,  the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, and the City of Port Isabel.

The LNG projects have been facing delays for years because of community opposition and difficulty securing contracts for their gas. Local communities including Port Isabel, South Padre Island, Long Island Village, and Laguna Vista have passed anti-LNG resolutions, and the Point Isabel School District serving these communities also denied tax incentives for the two LNG projects. This community opposition, as well as the unstable gas market, have led to repeated setbacks for the LNG industry in the area including the cancellation of the proposed Annova LNG project, the Societe Generale and the Port of Cork withdrawing from Rio Grande LNG, and BNP Paribas ditching Texas LNG. To date, the Texas LNG project has failed to secure customers, financial support, and is not authorized by the Army Corps of Engineers. 

If built, these LNG projects would pollute low-income communities of color and the Laguna Atascosa wildlife refuge, destroy wetlands, threaten numerous endangered species like the ocelot, and harm the local fishing and shrimping economy. The LNG companies and FERC have never consulted with the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas about their plans to bulldoze lands that are sacred to the Tribe. Construction and operations of Texas LNG would destroy the Garcia Pasture sacred site with burial grounds and villages that is recognized by the National Park Service and the World Monuments Fund. 

“Over and over, we have made it clear that we do not want these massive gas facilities in our low-income communities of color because they would put our families in danger with pollution and risk of explosions, destroy wildlife habitat, destroy sacred lands, and exacerbate the climate crisis, all in the name of corporate polluter profit,” said Rebekah Hinojosa, Gulf Coast Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “The court recognized that our concerns were valid and needed to be addressed, and yet FERC continues to cut corners and ignore the harm these projects would cause. We are not backing down, and we will continue to fight back against these dangerous gas export projects until they are shut down for good.” 

"Rio Grande LNG and Texas LNG are tearing up the land," said Juan Mancias, Carrizo Comecrudo Tribal Chairman. "The FERC and the LNG companies have never consulted with the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe about their plans to destroy our sacred lands to build these gas plants that do not help our people and would only benefit the fossil fuel corporations and their shareholders. We won't allow these disastrous gas processing plants to move forward and poison the health of our tribal members and destroy sacred lands and burial sites. We will fight to protect our ancestral heritage." 

“The City of Port Isabel is proud to join the Sierra Club and other advocates in this action because we believe the future of our community is worth fighting for,” said Jared Hockema, city manager for the City of Port Isabel. “Time and time again, we’ve shown that the process by which both the applicant and the state and federal authorities reviewed this project for compliance with environmental laws was deeply flawed. With the prospects of environmental degradation, harm to our natural resource-based economy or even an explosive disaster being so high, we are determined to continue this fight. We won’t rest until our community, and our people, are safe.”

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