Groups Sue DOE Over Stalled Review of LNG Export Policy

Conservation Groups Sue DOE Over Stalled Review of Methane Gas Export Policy

DOE Must Consider Economic, Environmental, And Public Health Impacts Of LNG Exports

WASHINGTON Conservation groups sued the Department of Energy (DOE) today for failing to timely respond to their petition for rulemaking calling on the agency to issue regulations defining whether proposed gas exports are consistent with the public interest. The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Environment America, and Friends of the Earth submitted the petition to the agency nearly a decade ago. Alongside other consumer, environmental, and community organizations, the groups sent letters to the agency last fall urging them to respond, but DOE has still failed to act. 

The original petition calls on DOE to issue a clear policy for LNG export applications that establish criteria to determine whether they are in the public interest, as required by law under the Natural Gas Act. Without such a policy, DOE has failed to weigh the broad climate implications of LNG exports and has neglected to account for the localized impacts of proposed gas export facilities or the impacts of increased exports on the price of domestic gas. While a transparent framework for evaluating gas export applications was needed in 2013, it is an even more pressing issue today, as over 20 export facilities are proposed in the U.S.

Every step of the way — from extraction by fracking, to transport by pipeline, to energy-intensive liquefaction — LNG projects release significant amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe, and a major contributor to the climate crisis.

Sited primarily in communities of color, proposed LNG export facilities would perpetuate environmental injustice. New and expanded gas export facilities would harm Gulf Coast and Delaware River communities that are already overburdened by industrial pollution from the fossil fuel industry, and who are also on the frontlines of extreme weather driven by climate change. Exports also affect families across the country through higher energy prices. Both the Energy Information Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission acknowledge LNG exports play a role in this drastic price increase, a burden that is especially hard to bear for fixed- and low-income households. 

In reaction to the lawsuit, groups issued the following statements:

Catherine Collentine, Director, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign, said: “It has been nearly a decade since we asked DOE to establish a fair and transparent framework for assessing the significant impacts of gas exports on the communities that host gas infrastructure and the climate. The massive buildout, and proposed expansion, of LNG export facilities poses an unacceptable burden to predominantly low-income communities of color who have been sacrificed to benefit the fossil fuel industry for far too long. If the Biden Administration is serious about upholding its environmental justice promises or climate commitments then impacts on frontline communities, the climate, and consumers must be factored into any public interest determination of gas exports.” 

Hallie Templeton, Legal Director for Friends of the Earth, said: “For decades, the Department of Energy has been making ad hoc determinations that environmentally destructive LNG exports are in the ‘public interest.’ Our diplomatic attempt to correct this arbitrary and capricious practice through a formal petition has languished with the agency for nearly a decade. We are out of patience and hope the judicial system can help force the agency’s unreasonably delayed response on an issue that poses enormous threat to communities and the climate.”

Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, said: “Communities targeted by LNG export operations deserve an updated, transparent process in which their views and input will be considered. This petition is a necessary step to hold the Department of Energy accountable for its decisions to authorize fossil fuel proliferation in the midst of the climate crisis.” 

Lauren Parker, Staff Attorney for Center for Biological Diversity, said: “The public interest is far too important to be defined by whoever’s holding the rubber stamp. Communities of color facing the double whammy of disproportionate fossil fuel pollution and climate disasters deserve a say in large-scale, polluting projects built in their backyards. It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to get the Biden administration to outline a clear rulemaking process for harmful fossil fuel projects during a climate emergency.” 

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, [email protected], (202) 222-0746

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