Commonwealth LNG hits roadblock on plant design

FERC grants motion to intervene on proposed export facility in Louisiana

Commonwealth LNG on Tuesday hit another speedbump on its path to building an LNG export facility on the Louisiana coast after FERC staff granted a request by a coalition of environmental groups to intervene regarding Commonwealth’s proposed change in the design of the storage facilities at the site.

In the Oct. 12 filing (CP19-502), FERC staff found that the motion to intervene was both timely and “demonstrates that the Environmental Coalition has interests that may be directly affected by the outcome of the authorization proceeding.”

In granting the motion to intervene, FERC staff also stated that the motion “will not cause any additional burden” on Commonwealth or other existing parties since the commission’s issuance of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS), which was announced Sept. 27, will already open a new intervention period.

In its Sept. 24 notice of intent to prepare an EIS for the proposed facility, FERC said that the EIS will “make recommendations on how to lessen or avoid impacts on the various resource areas” and that public comments “will help Commission staff focus its analysis on the issues that may have a significant effect on the human environment.”

FERC said a few expected impacts that deserve attention in the EIS “include wetland impacts, associated threatened and endangered species impacts, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.”

The LNG export project, which was announced in August 2019, will be located on a 393-acre site on the west side of the Calcasieu Ship Channel near its entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed project includes the construction of one LNG plant with six liquefaction trains, as well as a 42-inch-diameter gas pipeline from the LNG export terminal, extending 3 miles north to interconnect with existing gas pipelines in Cameron Parish.

In July 2021, Commonwealth amended its original application to propose a change in its tank design, while also proposing to increase the net capacity of the six trains from 40,000 cubic meters each to 50,000 cubic meters each.

The nine environmental groups, which include the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club and several Louisiana-based organizations, filed their motion to intervene Aug. 3, the deadline date to do so.

As part of an Aug. 18 response filing with FERC, Commonwealth argued that the concerns raised by the environmental groups “are outside the limited scope” of the July 2021 amendment application, “which only seeks to make minor changes” to the LNG storage tanks.

“As such, the Commission should disregard any aspects of these comments or protests that are outside the scope of the minor modifications included in the Limited Amendment,” Commonwealth wrote to the commission.

However, FERC staff ruled that if an applicant amends its application before an authorization order is issued, as Commonwealth did, then the entire matter is a single proceeding.

“The Environmental Coalition’s motion to intervene was timely filed on August 3, 2021,” the commission stated.

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