South Texas Communities and International Allies Condemn Rio Grande LNG’s Contract With French Petrochemical Giant

Texas and France – The French oil and gas giant TotalEnergies announced today that they have secured a contract detailing their investments in Rio Grande LNG, a methane export terminal proposed in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, owned by the US fossil fuel corporation NextDecade. This news comes shortly after French Bank Société Générale decided to drop its support of Rio Grande LNG, after years of pressure from South Texas communities and French allies.

While Rio Grande LNG is working with TotalEnergies, the project has not yet reached a financial investment decision (FID). In late 2022, Rio Grande LNG began clear-cutting land before reaching FID. Despite clear-cutting, they announced earlier this year another delay in financing and moved their expected FID date to the summer of 2023. Rio Grande LNG has constantly faced tenuous financial support due to its inevitably devastating impacts on the climate, public health, and the regional environment. Rio Grande LNG is also facing current legal challenges, as environmental groups and local residents are seeking rehearings from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for rubber-stamping the project.

There is tremendous local opposition to these proposed LNG projects in the Rio Grande Valley. The directly impacted communities — the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of South Texas, South Padre Island, Port Isabel, Laguna Vista,  Long Island Village, and residents of Laguna Heights— are against  these projects because LNG threatens their fishing and nature tourism economy, would destroy wildlife habitat of the endangered ocelot, and pollute low-income Latinx residents.

Rio Grande LNG is one of several damaging and polluting projects proposed in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Rio Grande LNG would also build a new connecting pipeline, the Rio Bravo Pipeline, to transport gas. The project also wants to build a carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility in Cameron County, TX, an industry greenwashing technology that has been proven to fail and create more environmental problems. Rio Grande LNG would be built next door to Texas LNG, another proposed gas export facility, which threatens the destruction of Garcia Pasture, a sacred village and burial site belonging to the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, recognized by the World Monuments Fund.

“Rio Grande LNG would be a dangerous and super polluting project that had to seek financial support from TotalEnergies, another dangerous, super polluting company – because other institutions recognize that Rio Grande LNG is not a safe economical investment nor does it align with any commitments to curbing climate change,” said Bekah Hinojosa, Gulf Coast Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “Our community opposition is strong and growing: we have gotten more than one bank to drop their support of this project, and we got one proposed terminal, Annova LNG, canceled entirely. We will continue to work with our international allies and defend our communities from further fossil fuel exploitation and ensure that these destructive LNG facilities never get built.”

“Let me be clear: fossil-fuel development on stolen land is corporate colonialism at play. The Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe has never been consulted by companies like Rio Grande LNG, TotalEnergies, Enbridge, or Texas LNG, despite the clear and enormous threat they pose to our sacred lands,” said Juan Mancias, Chairman of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of South Texas. “We have and will always oppose these methane gas projects. We deserve to live in peace on the lands of our ancestors and see that our future generations are able to do the same, with clean air, clean water, and sovereign autonomy. We refuse to be complicit in Indigenous erasure for the profit of greedy corporations who care more about money than human life.”

“Rio Grande LNG divides French financial, economic and political players. BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale have pledged not to support it. It is urgent that Natixis does the same and that they all join forces with investors determined to demand a real climate policy from TotalEnergies and ENGIE. Nor is it too late for the French government to renew its commitment to fighting the US administration’s pro-fossil fuel policy,”  says Lucie Pinson, Executive Director of Reclaim Finance. “Today, Biden is perpetuating the policy begun under Trump. It is therefore with the same virulence that he demonstrated in 2017 that Emmanuel Macron must react to protect the Paris Agreement.”

“Financiers of Total Energies like Morgan Stanley, Citi, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase should take heed – their reputations are now linked to this dangerous project that continues to entrench environmental racism against Indigenous communities and gulf coast towns. The locking in of unacceptable fossil fuel emissions and climate chaos will harm countless future generations.” – Ernesto Archila, Corporate Strategist at Rainforest Action Network