The Sierra Club is making a last ditch effort to derail exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass LNG, and what it claims will be the consequent expansion of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well stimulation activities should exports go forward.

Overruled by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in their protest against construction of the Sabine Pass LNG export terminal last week, the environmental group lodged a new out-of-time protest with the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy (DOE/FE). The Sierra group is challenging the department’s earlier decision to conditionally authorize Sabine Pass LNG to export liquefied domestic gas.

In authorizing the construction of liquefaction facilities at the existing Sabine LNG import terminal (see Daily GPI, April 17), FERC said impacts from additional fracking were not a “reasonably foreseeable” consequence of LNG exports (see Daily GPI, April 18). With the approvals in hand from both FERC and DOE, Sabine Pass is negotiating with financiers and appears to have clear sailing toward a construction start date.

In its DOE filing, the Sierra Club said added fracking would be a consequence of the export authorization, and that the agency is obligated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to consider the consequences of a “probable” increase in natural gas production.

“Both [the] Natural Gas Act’s public interest standard and NEPA require analysis of upstream effects of LNG export, including inducement of additional shale gas drilling,” the Sierra Club said in its motion to intervene out of time and protest. “Domestic natural gas production, including shale gas extraction, directly affects many thousands of Sierra Club members. Because FERC refused to consider these upstream effects in its NEPA review, the Sierra Club moves to intervene out of time to assert DOE/FE’s independent obligation to consider these effects. Based on the available information, Sierra Club protests Sabine Pass’s application as contrary to the public interest.”

The Sierra Club and its allies also recently met with and submitted a formal letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), urging CEQ and the Environmental Protection Agency to look into the effects of increased fracking as part of their role in ensuring that proposed projects like the Sabine Pass LNG export facility meet public health protections and environmental standards, the Sierra Club said.

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