NEW ORLEANS (AP) — What would be the nation’s largest export terminal for liquefied natural gas won approval from a federal commission Thursday, although when the Louisiana project will be completed remains unclear in light of a Biden administration delay announced this year on such projects.

Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass 2 southwestern Louisiana project, often referred to as CP2, was approved with little discussion by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during a livestreamed meeting. However, the project, which would be Venture Global’s second such facility in the area, still needs Department of Energy approval, and its immediate prospects are uncertain, given the administration’s January pause.

That pause aligned President Joe Biden with environmentalists who fear the huge increase in exports, in the form of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is locking in potentially catastrophic planet-warming emissions.

Louisiana’s two Republican U.S. senators, officials from other energy producing states and industry officials have derided the pause as shortsighted and a boon to U.S. adversaries that produce energy, including Iran and Russia. But, some residents and environmentalists in the state — dependent on oil and gas dollars but also vulnerable to the effects of climate change — are wary of more LNG development.

Venture Global issued a statement praising the FERC approval. “This project will be critical to global energy security and supporting the energy transition, as well as provide jobs and economic growth across Louisiana and the United States,” said Mike Sabel, CEO of Venture Global LNG.

FERC’s approval brings new pressure on Biden from environmentalists.

“The temporary pause on LNG export permitting was a good first step; now President Biden must make the pause permanent and do whatever is necessary to clamp down on fossil fuels throughout the country,” the group Food & Water Watch said in an emailed statement critical of the FERC decision.

“New LNG export terminals are simply not compatible with a healthy, livable future,” said a statement from the environmental group Evergreen Action.

Outgoing FERC member Allison Clements spoke against the projects Thursday morning. “These projects will have enormous emissions of greenhouse gases, equivalent to putting more than 1.8 million new gas-fueled cars on the road each year. The order does not meaningfully assess those emissions,” Clements said.

FERC chair Willie Phillips said after the meeting that the commission had to maintain “a delicate balance” between the environmental concerns of communities and following the law governing project approval.

“When matters are complete, when our review is final, we give those matters a vote. And this matter is consistent with the standard that we’ve set for every other project,” Phillips said when asked about critics’ claims that FERC gave “rubber stamp” approval to the project.

He said the commission’s actions, in requiring about 130 conditions on the CP2 project, go “above and beyond” what the panel is required to do under the National Environmental Policy Act, a bedrock environmental law that requires extensive study and public input before major environmental projects can be approved.


Associated Press reporter Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.

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