The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has vacated an emissions permit for the 13.5-million tonne/year first phase of Sempra Infrastructure’s Port Arthur LNG plant under development in Texas. The company said it will continue to build at the site while it works with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on resolving the issue.
In its opinion, the court said that TCEQ had not imposed the same emissions limits at Port Arthur LNG as it had for other similar projects in the state and had not explained its reasons for doing so, which is legally required. The petitioner in the case, Port Arthur Community Action Network, had noted in its filing that Port Arthur LNG planned to use the same refrigeration compression (General Electric Frame 7EA turbines with Dry-Low NOx combustors) as NextDecade Corp.’s Rio Grande LNG project, but had been granted higher limits.
TCEQ acknowledged that lower emissions limits had been imposed at Rio Grande LNG but noted that since the plant was not in operation no operational data could prove that its limits were achievable and therefore it was not obligated to apply them elsewhere. The court disagreed, citing both state and federal guidelines.
Sempra earlier this year received Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorization to proceed with Port Arthur LNG Phase 2, adding two trains to the plant and roughly doubling its capacity (OGJ Online, Sept. 22, 2023). At the time, Port Arthur Trains 1 and 2 (Phase 1) were expected to be completed in 2027 and 2028, respectively.