Environmental advocates have filed another challenge against Tellurian Inc.’s proposed Driftwood LNG project, this time in the form of a petition against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The Sierra Club and New Orleans-based advocacy group Healthy Gulf have filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit asking for a review of permits granted to Tellurian. Specifically, the groups questioned a permit issued by USACE under the Clean Water Act that would allow Tellurian to fill and dredge wetlands in Southwest Louisiana during the construction of Driftwood.
Sierra Club’s Louisa Eberle, an attorney with the organization’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign said the USACE failed to require Houston-based Tellurian to appropriately mitigate or avoid destruction to a vital resource for protecting coastal communities.
“Driftwood LNG is proposing to build a massive gas export facility that would harm Southwest Louisiana communities, exacerbate climate change and destroy precious coastal wetlands in an already vulnerable environment in the crosshairs of climate change,” Eberle said.
The permit was initially issued by USACE in 2019, the same year the project received approval from FERC. The Driftwood liquefied natural gas export project, planned near Lake Charles, LA could potentially produce 27 million metric tons/year (mmty) of the super-chilled fuel at full scale. Its first phase, designed for 11 mmty, remains unsanctioned.
Tellurian initiated early construction at the site in March. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) also released a draft environmental impact statement in May for the proposed pipeline project that would feed Driftwood. FERC staff concluded the pipeline system could have environmental impacts that would be mitigated by Tellurian’s proposed designs.
In its announcement of the petition, Sierra Club claimed the construction of Driftwood could impact 718 acres of land and more than 319 acres of sensitive wetlands. Additionally, it estimated 370 acres of wetland could be impacted by the pipeline project.
The Sierra Club and other environmental groups have been increasingly combating permitting processes for multiple LNG projects along the Gulf Coast in a campaign against new and expanding export infrastructure.
Earlier this month, Tellurian announced it was growing its footprint in Louisiana in preparation to expand gas supply for Driftwood. The company agreed to acquire producing wells and infrastructure in the Haynesville Shale, potentially growing its gas production next year by 30%.
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