Court challenge expanded against LNG project investments

AMERICAN environmentalists have expanded a court challenge against multi-billion dollar investments in LNG projects in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area near Gladstone.

The Center for Biological Diversity originally filed a case against a $3 billion loan from the United States Export-Import Bank to the Australia-Pacific LNG project last year.

In California this week, the Center lodged changes to the case to also include another $1.8 billion loan by the bank to the Curtis LNG project.

The case rests on the environmentalists claims that the US investments in the projects - at World Heritage-listed Curtis Island - 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.

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

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.