April 2024, Vol. 251, No. 4


DOE, FERC Take Different Positions on LNG

By Stephen Barlas, Contributing Editor, Washington, D.C.

(P&GJ) — Environmentalists hailed the announcement by the Biden administration at the end of January — which halted the further approval of LNG exports — calling it a big victory in their fight against climate change and the natural gas industry’s alleged contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

The export ban will be imposed by the Department of Energy. But apparently, the left hand of the Biden administration doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. That right hand is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In January, FERC rejected an effort by the Sierra Club to stop the Driftwood LNG project being constructed by Tellurian Inc. in Lake Charles, Louisiana. 

The project was given a certificate by FERC in 2019. However, the project — which will include five liquification plants and a new interstate natural gas pipeline system, to provide up to 3,954,000 dekatherms per day of firm natural gas transportation — has been delayed due to Covid, as well as by an extended, delayed review of the project’s Clean Water Act permit by the Army Corps of Engineers. 

In October 2023, Driftwood asked FERC to extend its construction deadline for three years, up to 2029. The Sierra Club objected, arguing delays associated with the Covid pandemic are not the primary cause for Driftwood’s delay, and it instead pointed to Driftwood’s alleged mismanagement. 

Sierra Club also complained that FERC’s initial GHG emissions estimates were now inaccurate due to: (1) the federal government’s newly adopted emissions targets, (2) the federal readoption of the social cost of carbon and (3) current information regarding climate change and the lifecycle GHG emissions from LNG exports. 

FERC rejected all of Sierra’s arguments, agreeing that it is possible its initial GHG estimates are now inaccurate but also saying that Sierra did not prove that to be true. “However, Sierra Club has not identified any specific change of fact or law that would require the Commission to reconsider our prior findings that construction and operation of the projects, as conditioned, is an environmentally acceptable action…” 

FERC, now with only three members — a bare quorum — continues to buck environmentalist demands. One of the three, Allison Clements, has announced she will not seek a second term on the FERC, following the expiration of her first term in June of this year. She has consistently argued that FERC should do — and legally can do — a better job totaling GHG emissions for new construction projects. However, even if the Biden administration wanted to appoint a pro-GHG regulator to replace Clements, that person would undoubtedly not be approved by the Senate prior to this November’s president election. 

If Donald Trump is elected, Clements’ replacement will be an energy industry advocate, no doubt. 

Related Articles


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}