FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2022
Contact: Courtney Naquin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sierra Club Sues Army Corps of Engineers For Issuing Driftwood LNG A Permit That Violates Clean Water Act
Calcasieu Parish, La. – Today, Sierra Club, along with Healthy Gulf, filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers for issuing a Clean Water Act section 404 “dredge and fill” permit for the Driftwood LNG fracked gas export terminal proposed for construction in Calcasieu Parish in Southwest Louisiana. The groups argue that the permit falls short of legal requirements to avoid and compensate for impacts to wetlands, as required under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
The Corps granted Driftwood LNG a 404 permit in March 2019, even after receiving numerous comments from many concerned community members and environmental experts. If built, Driftwood would impact 718 acres of land and permanently destroy over 319 acres of sensitive wetlands. Construction of its associated pipeline would impact 370 more acres of wetlands and deforest 77 acres of wetlands. These lands are necessary natural storm barriers to hurricanes and help prevent flooding, and host a diverse ecosystem of wildlife.
Additionally, Driftwood LNG’s climate impact would be staggering. Operating Driftwood LNG would annually emit more GHG emissions than two coal plants, and the lifecycle of the produced LNG—from extraction to being burned after export—would emit 167 million metric tons of CO2e per year, which is equivalent to the annual emissions from 42 coal plants or 36.3 million cars. Driftwood LNG would produce those emissions every year for the entire 30-year lifespan of the facility.
Southwest Louisiana is also a region of major environmental justice concern, as it’s already saturated with many massive and hyper-polluting fossil fuel and petrochemical facilities, while also recovering many climate change related disasters. In Southwest Louisiana alone, there are currently three existing fracked gas export terminals, five that have been approved, and four that have pending applications. Many community members believe that SWLA has become a “sacrifice zone” to extractive and polluting industries, from petrochemical companies to the more recent fracked gas export buildout.
James Hiatt, Southwest Louisiana coordinator for Louisiana Bucket Brigade, said:
“Southwest Louisiana [SWLA] and the Calcasieu River are under immense pressure from decades of industrial pollution and carelessness; the river already suffers from an ongoing seafood advisory that warns about the toxicity of the fish and crabs. We do not need another facility adding to that pressure, especially not a gas export terminal that has zero benefit for the surrounding community. SWLA can not afford another export terminal that would increase our gas prices while also destroying hundreds of acres of our wetlands and exposing fragile ecosystems to further destruction. These wetlands serve as nurseries for shrimp, fish, crabs, and a way of life that makes Louisiana the Sportsman’s Paradise. To exchange our beautiful, finite natural resources for the short lived profits of Driftwood LNG would be beyond foolish – it would be an economic and climate disaster. We can not afford any more gas export terminals.”
Roishetta Ozane, Organizing Director for Healthy Gulf in SWLA and SETX, issued the following statement:
“Wetlands protect Southwest Louisiana from storm surges from major hurricanes like Hurricanes Laura and Delta. Every acre of wetlands holds 1 million gallons of stormwater. Driftwood LNG wants to destroy hundreds of acres of wetlands. This is extremely dangerous for Southwest Louisiana. Our communities will suffer the consequences of this permit to destroy coastal wetlands, and that’s why we are suing.”
Louisa Eberle, an attorney with the Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign with Sierra Club, issued the following statement:
“Driftwood LNG is proposing to build a massive gas export facility that would harm Southwest Louisiana communities, exacerbate climate change, and destroy precious coastal wetlands in an already vulnerable environment in the crosshairs of climate change. The Army Corps of Engineers had a chance to protect SWLA communities by requiring Driftwood to avoid and mitigate the destruction of these wetlands, but it failed to do so. We will continue to hold the Army Corps of Engineers accountable to the communities it serves.
Healthy Gulf is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to collaborate with and serve communities who love the Gulf of Mexico by providing the research, communications, and coalition-building tools needed to reverse the long pattern of over exploitation of the Gulf’s natural resources.