December 6, 2023
Secretary Antony J. Blinken
U.S. Department of State
Dear Secretary Blinken,
In December 2022, Oneok, Inc applied at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a Presidential Permit to construct and operate the Saguaro pipeline, stretching 155 miles from the Waha hub in the Texas Permian Basin to export natural gas through Mexico to feed proposed Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals on Mexico’s pacific coast. Public Citizen is a party to the FERC proceeding. America has quickly emerged as a natural gas production and exporting behemoth, producing more gas than any other nation and vaulted to the world’s top gas exporter. While most LNG exports depart from the U.S. gulf coast, Oneok’s proposed 48-inch export pipeline will incentivize expanded fracking to fuel exports through Mexico to serve Asian markets.
Per a 1953 Executive Order, FERC must obtain a “favorable recommendation” from the Department of State prior to issuing a Presidential Permit authorizing the construction of a pipeline that crosses the borders of the United State for the exportation of natural gas.
On November 8, Hagen Maroney, Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office of Global Change, emailed FERC requesting “a greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions analysis for the Saguaro pipeline project that covers lifecycle upstream and downstream ghg emissions rather than only the local project construction and operation ghg emissions described in FERC’s Environmental Assessment for the project. Providing a full lifecycle ghg analysis for the Saguaro project would be consistent with the September 21, 2023, Fact Sheet: Biden Harris Administration Announces New Action to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Combat the Climate Crisis, in which the President directs agencies to consider ghg impacts in environmental reviews conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).”
On November 13, FERC replied that the State Department request was “beyond the scope of the Commission’s analysis in this proceeding”, but nonetheless requested Oneok to respond to State’s email. Oneok submitted its reply on November 20, and, citing FERC’s determination that the State Department request was beyond the scope of the proceeding, declined to provide the requested GHG analysis.
Just two days later, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, the Assistant Secretary of the State Department Bureau of Energy Resources, “provided a favorable recommendation for the issuance of a Presidential permit” with no further requirement or mention of a lifecycle ghg analysis.
Today Public Citizen requests that the U.S. Department of State explain why it abdicated its authority to grant a favorable recommendation for a natural gas export pipeline without first obtaining a lifecycle analysis of the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions. We request a meeting with the appropriate representative to discuss. Thank you for your consideration.
Tyson Slocum, Energy Program Director
Public Citizen, Inc.
215 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003