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U.S. Court Vacates Emissions Permit for Port Arthur LNG Project

A U.S. court of appeals has vacated the emissions permit for Sempra’s Port Arthur LNG in Jefferson County, Texas, potentially delaying the timeline for one of America’s future LNG export plants.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that when granting the emissions limits permit to the project, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) did not apply the same emissions standards as in other similar projects such as the Rio Grande LNG project which NextDecade is constructing in Brownsville, Texas.

“The Commission is not forever bound to the emissions limits that it set for Rio Grande LNG for all subsequent permits,” the appeals court said in the ruling. But it added that “in making those individualized determinations, the Commission must demonstrate that it is treating permit applications consistently.”

“The Commission’s order granting Port Arthur LNG’s PSD permit application is VACATED and the matter is REMANDED to the Commission for proceedings consistent with our opinion,” the appeals court concluded.

Sempra announced in March this year the final investment decision (FID) for the development, construction, and operation of the Port Arthur LNG Phase 1 project. Phase 1 is estimated to cost $13 billion and is designed to include two natural gas liquefaction trains, two LNG storage tanks, and associated facilities with a nameplate capacity of around 13 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).

Commenting on the court decision, Sempra Infrastructure Senior Communications Manager Kym Butler told the Beaumont Enterprise,

“We are continuing construction on the project under existing permits and remain committed to working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and other stakeholders and are evaluating our next steps.”

Environmentalists hailed the appeals court decision as a “victory for clean air advocates in Texas.”

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“For Texas, this legal opinion is a clear message to stop bending over backwards to accommodate the whims of fossil fuel corporations like Sempra or Exxon,” said Ilan Levin, Texas Director of the Environmental Integrity Project.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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