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U.S. Investment in Australian Gas Plant Faces Lawsuit

The U.S. Export-Import Bank’s $3 billion in financing for a liquefied natural gas facility in Australia faces a legal challenge from conservation groups alleging the project threatens the Great Barrier Reef and marine life.

The bank violated the U.S. Endangered Species Act and a historic preservation law by financing the project without first consulting with wildlife agencies or reviewing the project’s impact on the environment, according to a complaint filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and two other groups in federal court in San Francisco.

The Australia Pacific LNG Project is located in Queensland, Australia, and will drill as much as 10,000 gas wells using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, install 300 miles of pipeline to transport the gas to the coast and construct a facility to turn gas to liquid and ship it through the Great Barrier Reef, according to the complaint.

The facility will be located in designated habitat for the dugong, sea turtles and saltwater crocodiles listed by the U.S. as endangered, according to the complaint. The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the agency to suspend commitment of resources until it consults with U.S. agencies.

Linda Formella, an Export-Import Bank spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail yesterday seeking comment about the lawsuit.

The case is Center for Biological Diversity v. Export-Import Bank, 12-6325, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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