Natural gas terminal clears hurdle

The proposed Cameron liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Hackberry, La., will not have a significant impact on the environment if its operator takes proper measures to reduce problems, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has concluded.

The Wednesday report from FERC staff brings Sempra Energy’s project to expand its existing LNG regassification plant one step closer to reality. It is one of seven export terminals to receive conditional approval from the Department of Energy to export to countries with which the United States does not have a free-trade agreement, but only one of those projects has received FERC’s blessing.

FERC’s commissioners will consider the environmental impact statement released Wednesday when they vote on Cameron’s application.

“FERC’s environmental staff concludes that construction and operation of the project would result in some adverse environmental impacts,” FERC wrote in a letter to the project’s owners. “However, these impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of Cameron’s proposed minimization and mitigation measures and the additional measures recommended by the FERC staff.”

FERC’s conclusion was based on a number of factors, including that a new pipeline for the project would use existing rights-of-way, the entire project would conform with various environmental laws and the terminal’s operators will seek to protect natural resources.

The regulatory action comes as Republicans and some Democrats are pushing to increase LNG exports and expedite the DOE and FERC approval processes.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) applauded FERC’s conclusion, an urged the commission to approve the project.

“The Cameron LNG export plant will create jobs and preserve our environment,” he said in a statement. “The project should be completely approved as soon as possible so we can start exporting millions of tons of liquefied natural gas per year.”