June 21, 2023
Contact: Gabby Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Bernard Parish, LA – Today, Sierra Club and Healthy Gulf, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) for unlawfully granting a coastal use permit (CUP) to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company for its Evangeline Pass project, a methane gas pipeline proposed for southeast Louisiana. Evangeline Pass would feed liquified methane gas to Plaquemines LNG, an enormous methane gas export terminal under construction in southeast Louisiana. The groups argue that LDNR violated Louisiana’s State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act (Coastal Management Act) in granting the project a CUP without considering the significant negative impacts the project would have on the regional environment, climate change, public health or public safety.
The Coastal Management Act mandates that LDNR consider and avoid any proposed project’s adverse cumulative impacts, to avoid project sites that pose flood and storm hazards or otherwise endanger public safety. The Coastal Management Act also requires effective safety plans for protecting people and the environment in the case of an accident or emergency (such as hurricanes). Sierra Club and Healthy Gulf’s filing highlights LDNR’s failure to consider cumulative pollution or environmental impacts, failure to consider public endangerment, and failure to create and seek community input on safety plans.
“The cumulative impacts of methane pipeline projects like this one leave coastal residents vulnerable to hurricanes, sea-level rise, and storm surges,” said Liza Livingston de Calderon, Senior Attorney with Earthjustice. “LDNR is in a unique position to protect Louisiana’s coast. But, here, it didn’t even meet its legal obligation to consider those cumulative impacts, let alone to protect against them. LDNR must fully consider the impacts of the project and then protect the Louisiana Coast and its people.”
“People in coastal Louisiana are fighting for their way of life. Fracked gas export projects like Evangeline Pass and Plaquemines LNG proposed in southeast Louisiana would devastate the area’s already vulnerable wetlands and environment, harm public health, and contribute to climate change,” said Naomi Yoder, Staff Scientist with Healthy Gulf. “People of color and those with lower income are disproportionately affected. Plaquemines Parish has already lost half of its land area (since the 1950s) due to climate change and the oil and gas industry. Any project that destroys wetlands in southeast Louisiana exacerbates land loss and contributes to environmental injustice, and must be stopped.”
“Louisiana is losing land faster than anywhere else in the continental United States yet LDNR continues to act counter to its mission by freely permitting projects that are harming the coast,” said Jessi Parfait, Sierra Club Campaign Representative for Southeast Louisiana. “LDNR issued the Evangeline Pass project a coastal use permit without considering the significant impact this project would have on the surrounding wetlands, which are already in peril. We have already seen in years past that the site of Plaquemines LNG is prone to flooding which will become more prevalent as the land surrounding the parish is lost. Further, Louisiana is already riddled with pipelines which have some of the worst accident records in the country. It’s time to say enough. It’s time to fully consider the impacts of every one of these projects and actually protect the people of Louisiana.”
This is not the only legal challenge Evangeline Pass is facing. Earlier this year, Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), for failing to provide a comprehensive analysis of the pipeline project’s projected greenhouse gas emissions in its environmental review. Evangeline Pass will have the capacity to transport 1.1 billion cubic feet per day. According to Sierra Club analysis, the pipeline could produce life cycle emissions of 41.4 million metric tons of CO2e per year, an equivalent pollution impact as 11 coal-fired power plants and over 9 million gasoline-powered vehicles.
Plaquemines LNG, the pipeline’s host facility, is expected to have an export capacity of up to 24 MTPA, which would have the greenhouse gas equivalent of 31 coal plants or 26.3 million cars, every year for the 30 year life of the project. It would involve 36 liquefaction trains, two 730 MW gas fired power plants, an export terminal, and destroy more than 300 acres of wetlands, adding to the already rapidly disappearing coastline.
Communities in the lower river parishes such as St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish live in one of the most dangerous hurricane zones in the state due to wetland loss. Plaquemines LNG is separated from the Gulf of Mexico only by a narrow strip of land. Wetlands are natural and necessary barriers to storm surges, and act as buffers to flooding. However, due to industrial activity and sea level rise from climate change, Louisiana loses on average a football field of wetlands that turns to open water every 100 minutes. Plaquemines Parish alone stands to lose 55% of its land over the next 50 years.