D.C. Circuit Again Denies Sierra Club Challenges to DOE LNG Export Authorizations

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied Sierra Club’s appeals of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) orders which authorized LNG exports from the Dominion Energy Cove Point LNG terminal under construction in Lusby, Md., the Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Cameron Parish, La., and the Corpus Christi LNG terminal under construction in Corpus Christi, Texas.  According to a Platts report, Sierra Club argued that in granting the LNG export authorizations, DOE failed to adequately assess greenhouse gas emissions from upstream gas production induced by the projects.  In denying the appeals, the Court relied on its recent opinion which denied Sierra Club’s similar challenge to DOE orders authorizing LNG exports from the Freeport LNG facility under construction at Quintana Island in Brazoria County, Texas.  There, according to the report, the Court ruled that the “indirect effects of gas production induced by the project were not reasonably foreseeable and that DOE did its best to determine the environmental impacts of the project.”

The Court’s most recent ruling upheld DOE’s orders on three remaining narrow issues raised by Sierra Club: (1) DOE’s reliance on an Environmental Assessment rather than an Environmental Impact Statement and finding of no significant impact, (2) DOE’s conclusion that there was not sufficiently specific information to identify where incremental gas production would occur at the local level, and (3) whether DOE failed to consider economic distributional impacts when evaluating “public interest” under the Natural Gas Act.

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