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U.S. energy regulators unanimously approve Commonwealth LNG terminal

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WASHINGTON — U.S. energy regulators unanimously approved the Commonwealth LNG, LLC liquefied natural gas terminal on the Louisiana coast on Thursday, with Democratic members listing concerns about its impact on greenhouse gas emissions and communities frequently exposed to pollution.

The Commonwealth LNG project, expected to export 8.4 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas from Cameron, Louisiana, was the first to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in more than two years. It is expected to begin shipping LNG in 2027.

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Rich Glick, a Democrat and the chairman of the FERC, which has five current members, said federal natural gas law covering LNG terminals requires the panel to approve the facilities unless they are contrary to public interests.

Still, Glick said he was concerned that the terminal will produce the equivalent of 3.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. “I still am at a loss as to why we don’t at least assess the significance of the greenhouse gas emissions in terms of making our determination … and I think it is something we need to grapple with as we move forward,” he said.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, LNG from the United States has become a key alternative for many European countries to gas from Russia.

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The other two Democratic commissioners also voted for the project but expressed concerns about its pollution impact on minority communities near the facility.

Environmentalists also said the rush to export gas can raise prices for domestic consumers. “FERC’s decision is not in the public interest for people who use gas to heat their homes, and will only further pollute environmental justice communities on the Gulf Coast overburdened by pollution that harms their environment and makes them sick,” said Cathy Collentine, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Richard Chang)

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