On November 17, 2022, FERC approved an application authorizing Commonwealth LNG, LLC (“Commonwealth”) to site, construct, and operate a liquified natural gas (“LNG”) export terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The LNG facility’s authorization drew concurring opinions from four of the Commissioners.
The Commonwealth facility will consist of six liquefaction trains and storage facilities that will process domestic natural gas into LNG for export of up to 1.21 billion cubic feet per day pursuant to the Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) export authorization.
After the issuance of the final Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”), the Commission authorized the facility, subject to customary conditions for the facility to comply with applicable laws and mitigate certain environmental impacts, and found that its siting, construction, and operation is consistent with public interest. Several intervenors urged the Commission to consider the upstream and downstream effects of the project’s greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions; however, the Commission declined to do so, citing the limitations of its statutory authority under the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”). Specifically, the Commission discussed that its review of environmental impacts is limited to the siting, construction, and operation of the facility, while DOE is responsible for authorizing the export of the commodity itself. Despite this, the Commission’s order did acknowledge the incremental contribution of the facility’s GHG emissions to future climate impacts.
Chairman Glick and Commissioner Clements wrote separate concurring opinions lamenting the limitations of FERC’s statutory authority to consider GHG emissions when considering siting applications for LNG export facilities under Section 3 of the NGA and called on Congress to provide a clearer framework for the Commission to make its public interest determinations. In his concurring opinion, Commissioner Danly praised the Commission’s swift action to approve Commonwealth’s application following the final EIS and urged the Commission to approve several pending projects. Additionally, Commissioner Danly argued that the significance of GHG emissions from a project should not be considered until a “credible methodology” is established. Commissioner Phillips wrote separately to underscore the EIS’s finding of a disproportionately high and adverse environmental justice impact to the local community from the visual effects of the facility and to express concern for the Commission’s approach of mitigating impacts on environmental justice communities.
A copy of the Order can be found here.