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Eco group takes legal action in US against QCLNG funding

A KEY part of the $20.4 billion QCLNG plant's funding has been challenged by environmentalists who say the plant is putting sea turtles, dugongs and other marine life at risk.

The group has already launched a lawsuit over $3 billion in funding for the APLNG project provided by the US Export-Import bank, but is now targeting the second plant's $1.8 billion funding from the bank.

Pacific Environment spokesman Doug Norlen said the suit would be historic, as it challenged whether its Endangered Species Act applied to US actions taken outside of US borders.

"Ex-Im Bank has a long history of committing billions of dollars in public financing to environmentally destructive projects abroad," he said.

"But funding two devastating fossil fuel projects in a world heritage area? It's a new low."

The case rests on the environmentalists' claims that the US investments in the projects at Curtis Island, Gladstone may breach American environmental obligations.

Among the complaints were that the government-owned bank ignored the effect the investments may have on the World Heritage Area and endangered or listed species.

Center for Biological Diversity international program director Sarah Uhlemann said the US Government "shouldn't be subsidising the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef".

Project owner QGC issued a statement in response to the fresh legal action, saying it respected the right of the groups to challenge the US government and welcomed scrutiny of its project.

However, it said it would not make further comment with the matter before a US district court.

The APLNG funding was provided in May last year while the QCLNG deal was struck in December.

The export-import bank was set up by the US government to lend money to projects found to benefit the US in foreign countries.

US company Bechtel is the main engineering, procurement and construction company on all three existing Curtis Island LNG projects, while fellow US company ConocoPhillips is a joint venture partner at APLNG.

The groups challenging the funding include the Center for Biological Diversity, the Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Pacific Environment group.

The case will likely rest on whether the court believes the country's Endangered Species Act applies to US Government agency actions outside of the nation's borders.

It also challenges whether the investment was consistent with American obligations under the World Heritage Convention.

While the action concerns the LNG projects, the Center has not taken direct action against the proponents involved, instead opting to challenge the billions of dollars in funding backing the projects.

Recently, the Save the Reef environmental group expressed concern that a fourth LNG project on Curtis Island in the form of the Arrow LNG project would increase nitrogen dioxide emissions over Gladstone to dangerous levels.

However, the state Attorney-General found any rise would be negligible.

CURTIS ISLAND PROJECTS

  • QCLNG: $20.4 billion
  • APLNG: $24.7 billion
  • GLNG: $18.5 billion
  • Arrow (pre-final investment decision): $17 billion

Topics:  curtis island, environment, gladstone, lng, qclng, save the reef



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