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First U.S. LNG facility irks Sierra Club

April 18, 2012 at 8:18 AM

WASHINGTON, April 18 (UPI) -- An environmental group expressed disappointment that U.S. regulators approved a liquefied natural gas export facility in Sabine Pass, La.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced it approved a proposal by Sabine Pass Liquefaction and Sabine Pass LNG to build and operate an LNG facility for exports of U.S. natural gas.

The project is the federal government's first authorization for LNG exports from the United States.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said the approval meant more hydraulic fracturing in the United States. FERC, he said, "refused to consider" the potential environmental and health effects of the process, also known as fracking.

Brune noted that the U.S. Department of Energy has the final say over the Sabine export license and his organization would call on the department to assess the potential risks associated with shale gas development in the United States.

The federal government is in the process of assessing potential regulations on shale natural gas. Critics say the chemicals used in the process are harmful to the environment, though practitioners note the process is relatively harmless if done correctly.

FERC, in a statement, said its "order finds that the project can be constructed and operated safely and with minimal environmental impacts."

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