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January 27, 2020 10:15 AM, EST

Opponents of Texas Port LNG Terminals Inch Closer to Lawsuit

An aerial view of the Port of Brownsville.(Port of Brownsville)

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BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Environmentalists and other opponents of three proposed liquefied natural gas export terminals at the Port of Brownsville are one step closer to filing a federal lawsuit to halt the projects after losing requests to have permit decisions reconsidered.

Over the past week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied requests filed by the Sierra Club, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and other opponents to reconsider the agency’s Nov. 21 decision to issue permits for the Texas LNG, Annova LNG, Rio Grande LNG and the supporting Rio Bravo Pipeline.

Under federal law, the next step for opponents seeking to stop the projects would be filing a lawsuit.

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“These projects would disproportionately impact our already-marginalized Latino community, subject us to increased air pollution, and threaten our local tourism economy,” Sierra Club Brownsville organizer Rebekah Hinojosa said in a statement. “With this decision, FERC has completely dismissed those concerns and signaled that we do not have the same environmental rights as other people. We will not stop fighting to ensure that these dangerous facilities are never built.”

Located just a few miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the three Brownsville projects would receive natural gas via pipeline from the Permian Basin of West Texas and other shale plays across the United States that would be supercooled into a liquid form and shipped aboard massive tankers to customers around the world.

If they land contracts and receive financing, the three 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.

Sierra Club was joined in all three requests by the Defenders of Wildlife, the City of South Padre Island, the City of Port Isabel, the Town of Laguna Vista, the Save RGV From LNG coalition and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which is working on behalf of the community groups Shrimpers and Fisherman of the RGV and Vecinos para el Bienestar de la Comunidad Costera, or Neighbors for the Well-Being of the Coastal Community.

“FERC is legally required to evaluate the impacts of this proposed facility and the other two nearby facilities on low-income and minority communities,” Texas RioGarnde Legal Aid Attorney Erin Gaines said in a statement. “With this decision, they have failed to live up to that responsibility.”

Opponents may have an ally in FERC Commissioner Richard Glick, who wrote a dissenting opinion in the order denying the request for rehearing on the Rio Grande LNG permit.

“Rather than wrestling with the project’s adverse impacts on the environment and the surrounding community, today’s order makes clear that those impacts are little more than a bump in the road to approving the project,” Glick wrote in his dissenting opinion.

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