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EPA questions FERC evaluation of wetlands impacts from Port Arthur LNG project

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EPA questions FERC evaluation of wetlands impacts from Port Arthur LNG project

The U.S. EPA urged FERC to consider alternatives in itsstudy of the proposed Port Arthur LNG export project backed by subsidiaries ofSempra Energy andWoodside Petroleum Ltd.

"In general, we find this document does not actuallyevaluate alternatives and should not be used as-is to satisfy [the NationalEnvironment Policy Act] and Clean Water Act requirements for consideration ofalternatives," the EPA said in a July 18 letter to FERC regarding thecommission's preliminary draft resource reports.

The 1.4-Bcf/d LNGliquefaction and export project in Jefferson County, Texas, enteredFERC's prefiling process in March 2015. The proposal is expected to completethe process later in 2016.

In its comments on the resource reports, the EPA focused onpotential impacts to wetlands and a lack of project alternatives that theagency considers more environmentally friendly.

"The evaluation of Port Arthur Canal site alternativeswas based on a list of criteria, which did not appear to include avoidance andminimization of wetland impacts," the EPA wrote. "We recommend thealternatives analysis be revised to incorporate avoidance and minimization ofwetlands as an explicit criterion that is given considerable weight in theanalysis."

The EPA also wrote that FERC's analysis of cumulativeimpacts may have been inadequate. "The report is very brief," theagency said.

The agency recommended that the widening and deepening ofthe Sabine-Neches waterway, industrial development of the Port Arthur area, ahistoric railroad and other projects all be considered potential cumulativeimpacts on the wetlands.

The Port Arthur liquefaction project, which would be locatedon a site previously permitted for an LNG regasification terminal along theSabine-Neches Ship Channel, would initially be designed to include two gasliquefaction trains with a total export capability of about 517 Bcf of gas peryear. The project would also include LNG storage tanks and facilities forloading LNG ships. Three miles of Highway 87 between the Intracoastal Waterwayand Keith Lake Pass would be relocated to accommodate construction of themarine facilities. (PF15-18)