Wetlands and Calcasieu Pass LNG terminal.

The Seapeak Magellan liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker at the Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LNG export terminal is seen in Cameron, Louisiana, on September 29, 2022, behind wetlands that will disappear if the proposed new LNG export terminal is built.

(Photo: Francois Picard/AFP via Getty Images)

Shut Down CP1 and Don't Permit CP2, Frontline Advocates Say

A new report from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade documents how Venture Global's history of violations and evasions has continued into 2023.

Venture Global's existing Calcasieu Pass liquefied natural gas terminal experienced operational problems for more than 63% of the first half of 2023, according to a Louisiana Bucket Brigade report released Wednesday.

The findings build on the terminal's record of permit violations during its first year in operation and come as Venture Global seeks federal approval for the Calcasieu Pass 2 (CP2) facility, which would emit 20 times more greenhouse gases than the controversial Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.

"Calcasieu Pass needs to be shut down, and this company should not get any other permits," report co-author Anne Rolfes, who directs the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, said in a press briefing.

"I think that it's fair to say that there's reason to fear that these other facilities that Venture Global is building will have the same kind of air emission problems that we're seeing at the Calcasieu Pass facility."

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade has been keeping tabs on Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass facility since it released 180,099 pounds of gas in an accident the day before it began operating at the start of 2022.

"That's enormous," Rolfes said. "And for me, that kind of set the scene for this facility."

The company went on to violate its air permit more than 2,000 times during 2022, and then asked the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) to respond to the violations by increasing its pollution limits.

"The plan is to retroactively make everything legal," Rolfes said. "And if that sounds crazy, welcome to Louisiana."

But Rolfes and other frontline advocates don't believe Venture Global should be trusted with an expanded permit. During both 2022 and 2023, it failed to submit letters to LDEQ and to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within seven days of any incidents, as mandated by the Clean Air Act. All the information the Louisiana Bucket Brigade has been able to gather comes from Venture Global's Title V Semiannual Monitoring reports for the first and second halves of 2022 and the first half of 2023, as well as from the careful documentation of people who live close to the facility and observed many more gas flares and sirens then the company reported.

In 2023, for example, the plants' neighbors observed flaring on 34 days that Venture Global failed to mention in its report for the first half of the year.

"If we didn't have these neighbors who were documenting the problem, Venture Global would be getting away with this," Rolfes said.

Even when it does submit reports, Venture Global's information is vague. For example, the 2023 report combined with neighbor testimony found the terminal experiencing problems on 115 of 181 days, or 63.5% of the year so far. However, one of those incidents was a 78-day accident that Venture Global said only lasted only five hours. If this strange report is omitted, then neighbors documented flaring on 69 more days than the company admitted.

Another concern raised by the report is that Venture Global does not appear to have taken steps to fix the underlying issues causing these accidents.

In 2022, the company said that issues with its turbines caused more than half of its permit violations, but that it had taken action to solve the problem. Despite this, it again stated that the turbines were behind 75% of 2023's permit violations.

"If this issue had been resolved in 2022, as Venture Global stated, why are the facility's turbines still the primary source of the problem?" the report authors asked.

This is concerning because Venture Global has said that CP2 and another LNG facility it is currently building in Plaquemines Parish, will be "technologically identical" to Calcasieu Pass.

Calcasieu Pass was built using modular construction, with parts including the power source made by Baker Hughes in Italy and then shipped to Louisiana for assembly, journalist Sara Sneath said during the briefing. When the entire power operation was assembled, the turbines emitted beyond permitted levels.

"I think that it's fair to say that there's reason to fear that these other facilities that Venture Global is building will have the same kind of air emission problems that we're seeing at the Calcasieu Pass facility," Sneath said.

Finally, the report raised alarms about what the LNG buildout is doing to Louisiana's fishing industry. Dredging to make room for large LNG tankers is polluting the estuary and harming fish, and the tankers themselves stir up enough silt and dirt to make fishing in the area impossible for half a day.

"What makes Louisiana, Louisiana?" Nathan, a third-generation crabber from Cameron, Louisiana, asked in the report. "It's not LNG plants. It's not refineries. It's seafood and the culture behind the seafood. I want to preserve that so my kids can experience it like I did, and the generations of fishermen before me."

The report makes six recommendations:

  1. LDEQ should deny Venture Global's request for additional Calcasieu Pass permits and instead shutter the facility.
  2. Venture Global should compensate area fishers for two years of lost wages and stress.
  3. LDEQ should fine the company for its violations.
  4. LDEQ, the Department of Natural Resources, EPA, Department of Energy, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) should all deny permits for CP2.
  5. The agencies should cancel the permits for the Plaquemines terminal.
  6. The Department of Energy should not grant Venture Global permission to export gas from CP2.

There is evidence that opposition from climate advocates and local communities is making a difference on the federal level. Rolfes said advocates had expected CP2 to be on FERC's agenda for the fall, but it was not listed for October, November, or December.

"Every month it is not on the agenda, we consider a victory because it means that it's not getting part of the federal approval that it needs," Rolfes said, adding that she took it as a sign that "our work has some momentum."

"We do believe that we've reached the ears of the Biden administration," Rolfes said.

Join the Movement: Become Part of the Solution Today

We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.

Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.