The Sierra Club mounted another protest of exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG), this time against a facility proposed for Freeport, TX. The opposition is not against exports themselves but against the expectation that they will cause drillers to expand the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well stimulation.

“Exporting natural gas is bad for Texas and bad for America,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “Exporting LNG requires increased natural gas production and more unsafe fracking, making a dirty fuel more dangerous…”

After taking millions of dollars in contributions from driller Chesapeake Energy Corp., the Sierra Club has become a “mortal enemy” of the industry on the fracking issue, according to one former staffer of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (see Daily GPI, April 5). The money the Sierra Club received from Chesapeake was mainly used to fight coal-fired power plants, according to press reports.

The Freeport LNG terminal is on Quintana Island in Brazoria County, TX. Freeport LNG Development LP and Macquarie Energy have sought to develop export capability on the site. (see Daily GPI, Dec. 27, 2011).

The Sierra Club filed a formal protest against the plans to the U.S. Department of Energy last Friday. The challenge alleges that the Freeport export proposal would lead to increased air and water pollution in Texas.

“Fracking for natural gas significantly impacts water and air quality in Texas. Air pollution from all three current major Texas shale plays impact areas, which either already fail, or are in danger of failing, to meet the requirements of the Federal Clean Air Act,” said Dewayne Quertermous, a Sierra Club Lonestar Chapter member. “An export facility would increase these impacts by increasing production in the shale plays. Additionally, the facility is sited in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria non-attainment area, which already fails to meet the requirements of the Federal Clean Air Act. Adding the significant air pollution of an LNG export facility would only make the situation worse.”

The Sierra Club filing calls for an environmental impact statement by the DOE to study the extent of the proposed facility’s environmental impact before DOE makes any final decisions. The filing joins others before DOE and other regulatory bodies, opposing export facilities at Cove Point, MD, Sabine Pass, LA, and Coos Bay, OR.

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