After the Biden administration approved two Texas coast liquefied natural gas terminals, environmentalists and communities are alarmed. The government has promoted natural gas exports as a way to decarbonize allies and protect U.S. energy dominance. Local communities claim geopolitics is sacrificing them, while environmental groups say the Biden administration is ignoring climate action.
“It doesn’t matter what mitigation Rio Grande LNG does, we are against it,” Jim Chapman of local group Save RGV told myRGV.com last month, referring to one of the two projects.
“Its harm cannot be mitigated. “Rio Grande LNG brings nothing good to the Valley except construction jobs, which disappear,” Chapman said. In March, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) convened a discussion on the need for more consultation with communities affected by polluting infrastructure.
“This procedural corner-cutting represents a gobsmacking departure, frankly, from the lessons I took away from the environmental justice rJoundtable we held just a month ago,” Commissioner Allison Clements told the Houston Chronicle.
FERC majority disagreed.
Today’s Order Takes An Unprecedented
Chairman Willie Phillips stated Today’s order takes an unprecedented and bipartisan step to protect environmental justice communities from potential concerns about the project’s effect on air quality. Natural Gas Intel reports NextDecade will decide on investment by June. The Sierra Club will request a second hearing from FERC, which could delay the projects.
“The FERC and fossil fuel corporations are forcing dangerous gas plants on the Rio Grande Valley that do nothing to help our community so fossil fuel corporations can profit,” stated Club local spokeswoman Rebekah Hinojosa.
“We are disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised, that FERC has failed us again,” Hinojosa said.
The Gulf Coast’s fishing, shrimping, and tourism businesses perceive the gas expansion as an existential threat, and this week’s FERC verdict comes amid deepening social differences. In January, the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Army Corps of Engineers had chosen “the least environmentally damaging” option for the 1.5 square mile Rio Grande LNG project and its pipes, dealing a major blow to the anti-gas alliance.
No one—including FERC—thinks “least damaging” means no damage. FERC members noted in a March environmental assessment states that the Texas LNG Project will have negative environmental effects.
The Rio Grande LNG project and the new development will cause “significant cumulative impacts,” including ship channel murkiness, coastal erosion, and habitat loss for federally protected ocelots and falcons. You might see the Texas Startup Allows Bitcoin Property Purchases.
FERC believes NextDecade’s mitigation strategies would minimize those impacts to “less than significant levels” for everybody concerned except those around “visual resources”—a technical word for the open ocean and coastal panoramas that a natural gas export terminal would impede. Local political officials say Texas’s south coast relies on tourists who come to sunbathe, birdwatch, and fish.
“We’re selling nature,” Port Isabel City Manager Jared Hockema told the Chronicle last year. We sell that.”
Hockema claimed that Houston and other industrialized Gulf Coast areas have little nature to market. “Up there, you see a bunch of smokestacks, ugly industrial development, and so we don’t want that type of development on the way to our city,” he said. The Biden administration has supported additional coastal gas export facilities to balance climate change and fossil fuel industry pressure.
The Hill said that “certifying” gas as lower-carbon may provide fuel with carbon emissions guaranteed to be approximately half that of coal and ease sales to climate-conscious utilities in Europe and Asia.
According to a Science study, leaks in the gas supply system negate such advantages over coal. Gas is mostly methane, climate-warming gas dozens of times stronger than carbon dioxide. A Monday study showed that a lack of openness in the certification sector makes it hard for communities and charities to identify if leaks are being located. You may also check Tech Breakthrough Fuels Economic Boom In Tiny Texas County, Doubles Wealth In Two Years.
The International Energy Agency, the world’s top watchdog, has advised against building new oil and gas infrastructure if global temperatures rise less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, which climate scientists say is the threshold for major disruptions to ecosystems, weather, and breadbaskets.
“The approval of any new fossil fuel project is a failure of the Biden administration’s stated commitment to take action on both climate change and environmental justice,” said Valentina Stackl of Oil Change International.
“It’s bad for the communities in Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley who will suffer the worst consequences of this massive industrial plant on their health and well-being, bad for our country as laggards to climate commitments, and bad for our planet, as the clock is ticking to stave off the worst climate disasters.”