Federal officials have approved permits for three new liquefied natural gas export terminals in the Rio Grande Valley and the expansion of another in Corpus Christi.
During a Thursday morning meeting, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Ron Chatterjee announced that the agency is approving permits for Rio Grande LNG, Annova LNG and Texas LNG at the Port of Brownsville.
The agency, Chaterjee said, is also approving the expansion of Corpus Christi LNG at the Port of Corpus Christi.
“I’m very proud of the hard work that the commission and its staff have undertaken to continue our processing of LNG applications,” Chatterjee said in a statement.“The commission has now completed its work on applications for 11 LNG export projects in the past nine months, helping the United States expand the availability of natural gas for our global allies who need access to an efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly fuel for power generation.”
Corpus Christi LNG is owned and operated by Houston liquefied natural gas company Cheniere Energy. The Corpus Christi already has two LNG production units known in the industry as trains in operation while a third is under construction. The FERC permit would Cheniere to build seven smaller trains as the site.
The three Brownsville projects represent more than $38 billion of private investment, thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of high-paying permanent jobs in one of the poorest regions of the United States.
Citing safety and environmental concerns, a coalition of environmentalists, Native Americans, shrimpers, fisherman and communities working under the banner Save RGV From LNG oppose the Brownsville projects.
“It’s disappointing that FERC failed to recognize that these proposed fracked gas facilities would be a disaster for the Rio Grande Valley, but today’s approval is far from the end of the fight,” Sierra Club Brownsville Organizer Rebekah Hinojosa said in a statement. “Our communities are united in opposition to these dirty, dangerous projects, and we will continue to pursue all avenues – from the courts to pressuring financial institutions – to ensure they are never built.”
FERC officials gave some opponents of the projects legal status in the permit applications for a couple of the projects. It remains to be seen if they will use that status to request a rehearing or file a lawsuit.
Environmental reviews for the Brownsville projects stated that the combined light, noise and habitat fragmentation from the projects would harm endangered species such as the ocelot, jaguarundi and aplomado falcon. The companies have pledged to set aside a thousands of acres of land for wildlife and to use noise-reducing and light-reducing measures during construction and operations.
In a dissenting opFERC Commissioner Richard Glick said the agency failed to live up to its legal obligations.
“We say there are adverse impacts and then we do nothing,” Glick said during the meeting.
This article first appeared on the Houston Chronicle – an Energy Voice content partner. For more from the Houston Chronicle click here.