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FERC clears final EIS for Texas LNG project, flags cumulative impacts

Highlights

Final EIS finds potential impacts to water quality, wildlife

Two other LNG projects proposed for Brownsville Ship Channel

Houston — Potential adverse environmental impacts from the proposed construction of an LNG export terminal along the Brownsville Ship Channel in South Texas could be mitigated, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Friday, although it cited "significant" cumulative impacts when nearby LNG projects are taken into account.

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In a 500-page final environmental impact statement, FERC said developers of the Texas LNG project could reduce the adverse impacts in the project area "to less than significant levels" by implementing the developer's proposed mitigation plan and by taking additional mitigation measures recommended by FERC's staff.

The proposed project calls for the construction of a liquefaction and LNG export terminal with a capacity to produce up to 4 million mt/year of LNG for export. The project would be constructed in two phases, each with a capacity of 2 million mt/year.

"We look forward to receiving FERC's approval in the next few months. The receipt of the FERC approval is one of the important steps to allow the project to begin construction and commence LNG production by 2024," Texas LNG founder and Chief Operating Officer Langtry Meyer said in an email statement Friday

EROSION, HABITAT LOSS CITED

The final EIS found that the Texas LNG Project -- proposed to be built on the north side of the Brownsville Ship Channel, 2.5 miles southwest of the Town of Port Isabel, Texas -- combined with other proposed LNG projects in the region "would result in significant cumulative impacts."

Among the potential cumulative negative environmental impacts, the EIS cited sedimentation/turbidity and shoreline erosion in the Brownsville Ship Channel from vessel transits during the terminal's operation.

It also listed potential impacts on federally listed ocelot and jaguarundi from habitat loss and the potential for increased vehicular strikes during construction as well as potential impacts on the federally listed aplomado falcon from habitat loss and construction of elevated structures.

DOE EXPORT REVIEW

The Department of Energy issued an order granting authorization to Texas LNG to export LNG to countries with which the US has free trade agreements in September 2015. DOE is currently conducting its review of Texas LNG's application to export LNG to non-free trade agreement countries.

Other LNG projects proposed for construction along the ship channel include NextDecade's Rio Grande LNG and the Annova LNG project.

In a statement Friday, Sierra Club Brownsville Organizer Rebekah Hinojosa said the LNG projects "would be an environmental disaster for the Rio Grande Valley."

The Sierra Club asserted that FERC's EIS downplayed the adverse environmental impacts "by arguing that they will be mitigated or insignificant, despite the fact that there is no plan for mitigating impacts to wetlands, and that the US Fish and Wildlife Service appears not to have even begun its analysis of impacts to endangered species."

The group said FWS must issue a biological opinion before the project can proceed with construction.

-- Jim Magill, jim.magill@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Maya Weber, newsdesk@spglobal.com