Carolyn Morrisroe, firstname.lastname@example.org
LAKE CHARLES, La. — Today Sierra Club, along with Healthy Gulf, filed a federal lawsuit challenging a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to authorize construction and operation of over 30 miles of pipelines intended to almost solely supply gas to Tellurian’s proposed Driftwood LNG export facility in Southwest Louisiana. If constructed and operated as proposed, the Driftwood methane gas facility would be one of the largest polluters in the Gulf region.
The pipeline project that FERC approved — Line 200 and Line 300 — would emit 314,700 tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent. Construction of the pipelines would also harm or destroy almost 160 acres of wetlands. The groups criticize FERC’s failure to adequately consider the project’s direct and indirect impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, wetlands, and species — as well as its harmful impacts to nearby communities already subjected to decades of environmental injustice.
This is Sierra Club’s second lawsuit related to the proposed Driftwood LNG export facility. The first lawsuit challenged the Clean Water Act section 404 permit issued for the Driftwood LNG project.
FERC’s flawed public interest determination is further underscored by the financial hurdles facing the project's main subscriber Driftwood LNG, which reported in an Aug. 1 Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it lost its last remaining offtake agreement. In May 2021, Tellurian and Gunvor Singapore LTD signed a 10-year agreement for 3 million tons of LNG per year, contingent upon Tellurian securing its final investment decision (FID) and starting construction on its Driftwood LNG project. Tellurian began clearing its site in Hackberry, La., last year, destroying several hundred acres of valuable wetlands, but it has yet to secure the financial backing necessary to begin construction in earnest. After extending the offtake agreement several times this year, Gunvor finally walked away from Tellurian.
Gunvor is not the first contract that Tellurian has lost. In September 2022, the would-be LNG company announced that Shell and Vitol had terminated their contracts because the company had not reached FID. Another recent effort by Tellurian to secure cash is a land sale and leaseback deal. The company signed an agreement to sell 800 acres of its Driftwood site for $1 billion and lease it back for 40 years at a capitalization rate of 8.75% and annual rent escalators of 3%. This was a last resort effort to increase the company’s liquidity, further weakening Tellurian’s balance sheet by adding a 40-year liability from this lease.
Roishetta Ozane, Director of the Vessel Project of Louisiana, stated, “I live in Westlake, just a couple blocks from the proposed route for the Driftwood Lines 200 and 300 pipelines. My family can’t take any more pollution and the threat of explosions. We already breathe toxic air from Westlake Chemicals and too many other petrochemical facilities. We are already surrounded by a dizzying maze of underground pipelines. We are already traumatized by the constant barrage of explosions and industrial fires. We can’t take more. The impacts of these industrial projects disproportionately impact Black and Brown families like mine, and we’re tired of it. We are already experiencing adverse health impacts. The FERC Commissioners and their staff have been to my community and they know what we are living with, yet they still approve harmful projects like these Driftwood pipelines. They have to start putting people over corporate profits. Enough is enough!”
Cindy Robertson, Director of the Micah 6:8 Mission, said, “This pipeline will pass within a block of my house in Sulphur. Today, the temperature at my house will reach 102 degrees. This summer’s heat dome has been nearly unbearable and is unquestionably a product of our warming climate. If we aren’t flooding, we are burning up. We know that more fossil fuel exports and projects like Driftwood LNG and the Line 200 and Line 300 project will only make things worse for regions like Southwest Louisiana, yet the Biden Administration and FERC Commissioners continue approving more oil and gas infrastructure. They aren’t suffering, but we are.”
Sierra Club attorney Rebecca McCreary said, “In its approval of the Driftwood Line 200 and Line 300 project, FERC violated the law by ignoring serious threats to the climate, local communities, and the environment of Southwest Louisiana. It is unacceptable for FERC to claim that this project is in the public interest, as there is ample evidence that this project is not only unnecessary and will contribute to adverse impacts to communities in an already industry-overburdened region, but also because the Commission has failed to adequately consider the true scope of harm from this project.”
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.