Table of Contents:
1) TCEQ Commissioners 06-12-2019 agenda includes a vote on Texas LNG’s air quality permit (livestreamed)2) US House Committee 06-12-2019 hearing on FERC and it’s responsibilities to benefit consumers and the environment3) Sierra Club and other groups ask FERC to take a 2nd look at Rio Grande LNG’s Final Environmental Impact Statement4) The public comment deadline on Jupiter’s Heavy Condensate Upgrader Facility is 07-24-2019
Back in 2015, Port Isabel, Laguna Vista, South Padre Island, and Long Island Village all passed resolutions opposing LNG.
Even though FERC is scheduled to approve Texas LNG on 06-13-2019, Annova LNG on 07-18-2019, and Rio Grande LNG on 07-25-2019, it’s now doubtful that FERC will issue the permits as scheduled. FERC published “Final” Environmental Impact Statements on all three. But it published them before many of the critically important parts of the project plans were completed.
If FERC issues any of the permits as scheduled, they will most likely be conditional permits. In other words, the companies will likely be required to finish jumping through all the regulatory hoops before they will be allowed to put shovel to ground.
Meanwhile, local communities and groups are continuing to fight for “affected person” status. To enable them to engage Rio Grande LNG and Texas LNG in Contested Hearings regarding their LNG projects (see Item 1 below). The TCEQ Executive Director has yet to make his recommendation to the TCEQ Commissioners regarding Annova LNG.
Also, a US House Committee is looking at how FERC handles natural gas and LNG Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas emission issues (see Item 2 below).
Regarding NextDecade’s paired Rio Grande LNG and Rio Bravo Pipeline projects, the Sierra Club and other official Intervenors are asking FERC to require a “Supplemental” Environmental Impact Statement on those two projects (see Item 3 below). If FERC decides that the request is valid, the time required to complete the Supplemental EIS would seriously damage NextDecade’s timetable.
Don’t forget that the public comment deadline on Jupiter’s Heavy Condensate Upgrader Facility TCEQ air quality permit is 07-24-2019 (Item 4 below).
Also check out the Save NPR in the RGV GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/npr-for-the-rio-grande-valley. It’s different from the Save NPR in the Rio Grande Valley Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/savenprrgv/that covers both the upper and lower valley. Both are worthy of support, but the GoFundMe page is specific to the lower valley. To make clear that the lower valley wants and will support NPR broadcasting that includes a strong signal for all the lower valley communities and residents and serves the lower valley’s interests and concerns as well as the upper valley’s interests and concerns. FM88’s Closer To Home segment played an important role in alerting us in May 2014 that LNG projects were targeting our local Port of Brownsville and more recently in alerting us to the threats of Border Wall expansion to our state and national parks and National Butterfly Center.
And keep up to date by regularly visiting SAVE RGV from LNG’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/saveRGVfromLNG/.
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1) The TCEQ Commissioners are scheduled to vote on Texas LNG’s air quality permit this Wednesday morning 06-12-2019. It’s Item 3 on the agenda.
A live webcast of the meeting can be viewed 06-12-2019 starting at 9:30 amat https://www.tceq.texas.gov/agency/decisions/agendas/webcasts.html
This vote is important because the Commissioners will be voting on both 1) the permit and 2) the Contested Hearing requests submitted by Port Isabel, South Padre Island, Long Island Village, Shrimpers and Fishermen of the RGV, and Vecinos Para el Bienestar de la Comunidad Costera (VBCC).
Also, the Houston Chronicle has published a 06-07-2019 story on the local opposition to the LNG 3 (Texas, Annova, & Rio Grande LNG) : “The Great LNG Debate: A growing industry faces stiff, organized opposition in the Rio Grande Valley,” Sergio Chapa, 06-07-2019, https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/The-Great-LNG-Debate-A-growing-industry-faces-13958286.php
The Public Meeting on the permit was held in Brownsville way back on 10-11-2016. But Texas LNG and TCEQ didn’t move forward on the permit until 05-20-2019.
The TCEQ Executive Director has recommended that the Commissioners grant the permit and reject all the Contested Hearing requests. The TCEQ Office of Public Interest Council has taken no stand on the permit but has recommended that all the Contested Hearing requests be granted.
On 06-03-2019, Port Isabel, SPI, Long Island Village, the Shrimpers, and VBCC filed a response critical of the TCEQ Executive Director’s judgement that they don’t meet the legal definition of “affected persons” qualifying for Contested Hearings.
This could play out the same way the Rio Grande LNG air permit application did back in December 2018. Then too, the TCEQ Executive Director and the Office of Public Interest Council took opposite positions on the Contested Hearing requests relating to the Rio Grande LNG project. NextDecade, Rio Grande LNG’s parent company, proudly announced 12-12-2019 that the TCEQ Commissioners had granted their air quality permit and rejected all the Contested Hearing Requests (including those by Laguna Vista and Port Isabel).
That means that NextDecade is fully willing to throw local communities under the bus if they get in the way of its projects. Rio Grande LNG even claimed 01-25-2019 that the project “will not impact human health or the environment beyond the fence line of the proposed facility” (https://www15.tceq.texas.gov/crpub/index.cfm?fuseaction=iwr.viewdocument&doc_name=Applicant%27s%20Reply%20to%20Motion%20for%20Rehearing%2Epdf&doc_id=644506012019025&format_cd=PDF). As if the LNG facility would be built inside a bottle or terrarium.
Importantly, the Rio Grande LNG Contested Hearing requests aren’t all dead yet. On 03-12-2019 the Shrimpers, VBCC, and SAVE RGV filed an appeal in the TravisCounty TX 250th Judicial District Court regarding the TCEQ Commissioners rejection of their Contested Hearing requests (Cause Number D-1-GN-19-001306). If the Court grants the appeal, then additional “affected persons” (individuals, groups, communities) will have a opportunity to submit Contested Hearing requests as well.
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2) US House Committee 06-12-2019 hearing on FERC and it’s responsibilities to benefit consumers and the environment
IMPORTANT 06-12-2019 10:30 am ET House Energy & Commerce Hearing on “OVERSIGHT OF FERC: ENSURING ITS ACTIONS BENEFIT CONSUMERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT.”
Especially important because FERC Commissioner Richard Glick’s efforts include Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emission issues in FERC’s permitting of natural gas operations (including pipelines and LNG).
For information on the Hearing, go to https://energycommerce.house.gov/committee-activity/hearings/hearing-on-oversight-of-ferc-ensuring-its-actions-benefit-consumers-and
It will be livestreamed starting 06-12-2019 at 10:30 am ET at https://youtu.be/pHA8ME8O-zs
To see who’s on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, go to https://energycommerce.house.gov/about-ec/membership
The committee meeting witnesses will be FERC Chair Neil Chatterjee and FERC commissioners Cheryl LaFleur, Richard Glick, and Bernard McNamee
The Key Document will be the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Frank Pallone’s 06-17-2019 5 page memorandum available at https://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/files/documents/061219%20Briefing%20Memo_ENER%20SUB_HRg%20on%20FERC%20Oversight.pdf
Section C of that memo addresses FERC’s regulation of natural gas operations. Two excerpts:
FERC has recently been involved in litigation related to allegations that it purposefully curtailed analysis and limited disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions from projects it considered for authorization. Otsego 2000—a non-profit organization—challenged FERC in court, alleging that the Commission purposefully failed to calculate greenhouse gas emissions associated with final approval of Dominion Energy’s New Market Project pipeline. In May 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the plaintiff did not have sufficient standing to challenge FERC’s approval of the project and resolved the case on technical grounds. Commissioners LaFleur and Glick, as well as several environmental advocates, opposed FERC’s decision to authorize the New Market Project.
In June 2019, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by FERC to grant a permit for the construction of a pipeline in the State of Tennessee but raised concerns with the Commission’s justification for abstaining from analyzing greenhouse gas emissions that may be produced by the project. The panel of judges found that FERC was incorrect in its interpretation of its obligations under circuit precedent, and it criticized the Commission for making “no effort” to seek information regarding possible changes to greenhouse gas consumption and emissions associated with the project.
One of the local main concerns about the Rio Grande, Annova, and Texas LNG projects is the huge amount of Greenhouse Gases they will emit hour after hour, round the clock, day after day, for the next 30 to 50 years here.
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3) Sierra Club and other groups ask FERC to take a 2nd look at Rio Grande LNG’s Final Environmental Impact Statement
It looks like NextDecade has pulled out all the stops and is going for broke on getting it’s Rio Grande LNG and Rio Bravo Pipeline projects up and running with at least two LNG liquefaction production trains producing at least some Liquefied Natural Gas by around 2023-ish.
Don’t forget that the company was incorporated in November 2010 and, back in March 2015, said it expected FERC approval in February 2017, expected to start construction in June 2017, and expected have all six trains producing LNG by the 4th Quarter of 2020.
It can’t afford any more delays.
But on 05-30-2019, Sierra Club and other Intervenors filed a request that FERC initiate a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the Rio Grande LNG project. Why? Because NextDecade’s May 2019 Corporate Presentation told investors that the project would increase the production capacity of each train by 22% over the amount specified in the April 2019 Rio Grande LNG / Rio Bravo Pipeline Final Environmental Impact Statement.
In addition, the Corporate Presentation said it would achieve this increase in production by using “debottlenecking” practices. But back in 2016, the company denied it would use such “debottlenecking” practices.
See the 05-30-2019 request at http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20190530-5516. Also see the Sierra Club Press Release on this at https://www.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2019/05/new-disclosure-reveals-rio-grande-lng-misled-regulators-about-capacity?fbclid=IwAR3KfTSSUrtRdUNhkDHo-fPwbTfWF-ha-AM9G571aKOB6bniVUpj8fLvKOA and “Environmentalists ask FERC to take second look at Brownsville LNG project,” Jessica Corso, 06-03-2019, San Antonio Business Journal, https://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/news/2019/06/03/environmentalists-ask-ferc-to-take-second-look-at.html
By 06-03-2019, NextDecade edited its May 2019 Corporate Presentation to eliminate the word “debottlenecking” that it’s been using in its Corporate Presentations since at least February 2019. On 06-03-2019, the company filled a response to the 05-30-2019 Sierra Club request stating that the 2016 LNG production figure remains accurate and that, therefore, no Supplementary EIS should be required. In addition, it stated it’s well aware that increased production would have to receive prior approval before implementation. See NextDecade’s response at http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20190603-5136.
But by 06-07-2019 NextDecade posted a new, undated Corporate Presentation that seems to both restate the higher LNG production rate and obscure the fact that Rio Grande LNG is to start with just two or three LNG production trains and that that the three Galveston Bay LNG trains aren’t scheduled to start producing LNG until 2027-ish.
It’s almost as if NextDecade’s stumbling all over itself trying to convince investors its Rio Grande LNG project is BIG and NOW. That its “up to” 9 LNG production trains can even outperform Cheniere’s 8 trains (https://investors.next-decade.com/static-files/dbae3796-a15a-43dc-a218-3ae286f39ae2, Slide 24). While at the same time reassuring FERC that it’s Rio Grande LNG / Rio Bravo Pipeline Projects are no bigger than specified in their April 2019 Final Environmental Impact Statement.
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4) The public comment deadline on Jupiter’s Heavy Condensate Upgrader Facility is 07-24-2019
The two stories on the 05-28-2019 so far are pretty negative against Jupiter. See “Residents oppose oil projects at Brownsville port,” Steve Clark, 06-02-2019, The Monitor, https://www.themonitor.com/2019/06/02/residents-oppose-oil-projects-brownsville-port/ Note especially the part where Port of Brownsville CEO & Director Campirano weighs in:
Jupiter said earlier this year that it expected the pipeline to begin operations by the fourth quarter of 2020. The company also plans to apply for permits to build a terminal six miles offshore from South Padre Island to accommodate VLCC (very large crude carrier) vessels.
Campirano said the port has an agreement with Jupiter for construction of a terminal operation but nothing more, which means a pipeline won’t happen “anytime soon.”
“As I understood it, the air quality permit pertained to the original application for a liquid terminal operation, which would receive commodity over the dock, either in or out,” he said.
“There’s still much more to do if all the other stuff is going to progress. … We’ve had numerous meetings about various issues. They’re basically exploring, investigating and doing due diligence on these other matters. Whether they come to bear remains to be seen.”
Also “”Brownsville residents express opposition to oil terminal at port,” Jessica Carso, 06-05-2019, San Antonio Business Journal, https://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/news/2019/06/05/brownsville-residents-express-opposition-to-oil.html
For more information on JupiterMLP’s plans for its Port of Brownsville site, a 650 mile long 36-inch oil pipeline, and a Very Large Crude Carrier loading dock 6 miles off the coast in the South Padre Island area, check out go to https://docs.google.com/document/d/10B4YGVtc1fmIOnPBNfDNgpv5ccpfY9SAlrfkJx3Ac-M/edit#heading=h.hwjj972dxqqd. Also check out the JupiterMLP website at https://www.jupitermlp.com/
To submit a written comment opposing Jupiter’s plans, go to http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=7NFfEC4Qd05bErX2lAplQ9Ph8P4w6n0S
The focus of comments should be on clean air, since its a air quality permit. But any and all comments are welcome that show opposition to the Heavy Condensate Upgrader Facility JupiterMLP wants to build at the Port of Brownsville TX (next door to South Padre Island).