Texas natural gas projects face fresh environmental challenge

2 minute read

Water pipes are seen at a wastewater injection facility operated by On Point Energy in Big Spring, Texas U.S. February 12, 2019. Picture taken February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • Groups sue Army Corps of Engineers over permit for Rio Grande LNG terminal, Rio Bravo Pipeline projects
  • Plaintiffs say plan threatens wetlands

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fishermen and environmental groups have sued the Army Corps of Engineers in federal appeals court over its issuance of a permit for the proposed Rio Grande LNG export terminal and the related Rio Bravo Pipeline project in southern Texas.

The Sierra Club, Save RGV from LNG and others on Thursday asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the Corps' approval, alleging it violated the Clean Water Act by permitting projects that could result in hundreds of acres of wetlands being "destroyed" with fill material.

The plaintiffs say the so-called "dredge and fill" permit, issued in September, "falls short of legal requirements to avoid and compensate for impacts to wetlands."

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The Rio Grande LNG project, which Houston-based NextDecade Corp is developing, would export natural gas from the port of Brownsville to global markets. Calgary-based Enbridge Inc owns Rio Bravo, which would supply the terminal with natural gas from Agua Dulce.

The projects suffered a setback in August when a federal appeals court ruled that their approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission suffered from "deficient" environmental analyses. The Sierra Club and Save RGV from LNG are among the plaintiffs in that case.

Neither the Corps nor NextDecade responded to requests for comment on Thursday's lawsuit. Michael Barnes, an Enbridge spokesperson, said the company was aware of the lawsuit and "will not comment on pending litigation matters."

Tom Gosselin, an attorney with the Sierra Club, said in a statement that the plaintiffs "refuse to be a sacrifice zone to the LNG industry."

U.S. liquefied natural gas developer Annova LNG in March stopped development of its proposed LNG export plant, which was also to be located in Brownsville. The decision followed a collapse in natural gas prices in Europe and Asia in 2020 due primarily to coronavirus demand destruction.

The case is Shrimpers and Fishermen of the RGV et al. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, No. N/A.

For Shrimpers and Fishermen of the RGV et al.: Nathan Matthews and Thomas Gosselin of the Sierra Club; Hannah Samson of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.

Read more:

FERC must redo climate analysis for Texas LNG projects - D.C. Circuit

Factbox-U.S. new natural gas pipeline projects

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

New York-based correspondent covering environmental, climate and energy litigation.