Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is fracked methane gas that is extracted from shale formations and processed into a liquid state by cooling to minus 260 degrees F, reducing its volume by more than 600 times to facilitate storage and transport. LNG is classified as a hazardous material. When spilled, it becomes flammable and potentially explosive, posing significant and unmitigatable danger to public safety and health and to the environment. This threat to public safety accompanies every step of LNG’s supply chain including processing, handling, transloading, storage, and transporting. The risks of potential catastrophic damage to human life and the environment posed by a fire and/or explosion from a spill or breach of an LNG container outweigh any claimed benefits of this alternative fuel.
Communities of color and those with low household incomes comprise about 38 percent of the people living within three miles of proposed LNG facilities. In addition to safety threats, public health is negatively impacted by air pollution from LNG processing, including particulate matter 2.5, total particulate matter, hazardous air pollutants such as benzene and mercury compounds, volatile organic compounds, ammonia, sulfuric acid, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides. Those closest to the emission source receive the most harm from most pollutants. Furthermore, the enormous footprint of these emissions can cause damage to human health for up to 159 miles. Additionally, recent analyses show a disturbing relationship between COVID-19 and air pollution: the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increases as PM 2.5 increases and potential death rate from the virus also rises. Throughout gas and oil extraction, development, delivery, and end use, public health is harmed, especially for those on the frontlines. The history of disproportionate current and historic environmental burdens on black and brown communities and the poor is a pattern of gross environmental injustice that is intolerable. In your January 27th “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad Executive Order”, you commit your administration to centering environmental justice in a “whole of government” approach; stopping LNG export and its infrastructure is a priority to address these oppressive inequities.
The full life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and liquefaction to end use are so great that, depending on amounts leaked and vented, LNG can be as bad or worse than coal in terms of atmospheric warming, exacerbating climate change. Methane is the most powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to heating the atmosphere on the all-important 10 and 20-year time scale, adding to the emissions that we, as a nation, are supposed to be reducing (reducing greenhouse gases by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030) in order to do our part to combat the climate crisis.
A recent report documents that from 2018 to 2019, the oil and gas sector experienced the largest year-to-year growth in reported greenhouse gas emissions, led by LNG, which reported a 52% emissions increase. Another new report found that producing, liquefying, and transporting the gas will generate up to 213 million metric tons of new greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. alone by 2030, equal to the annual emissions of up to 45 million cars. The export of LNG for use overseas further increases emissions as the gas travels by ship, is regasified and finally burned, discharging both methane (primarily from regasification) and carbon dioxide (primarily from combustion), contravening global climate goals.
The expansion of LNG export capacity requires the proliferation of gas drilling and fracking to feed the demand created by the export market. This induces new and expanded fracking and its infrastructure such as pipelines and, with that, environmental destruction, public health harm, and climate damage. Economic analysts explain that increasing gas takeaway capacity induces the production of gas. The higher priced markets reached through exporting LNG overseas provide incentive that would not exist for domestic natural gas otherwise. But the externalized costs for the public rise exponentially as the industry profits. Investing in capital-intensive LNG export infrastructure incentivizes extraction, increased consumption of natural gas, and dependence on polluting fossil fuels for decades more, thus displacing clean renewables and disincentivizing efficient energy use. Additionally, there is an oversupply of U.S. LNG export capacity and the demand for LNG in today’s global market is in steady decline, threatening to turn LNG facilities into stranded assets. Policy decisions in France and Ireland in recent weeks are shutting out LNG imports, and the economic forecast for LNG is unstable at best. Furthermore, the growth of renewable non-fossil fuel energy sources and energy efficiencies are more economically beneficial, climate friendly, and provide more self-determination for communities. We need a secure green energy future worthy of public investment.
President Biden -
We, the undersigned, respectfully petition you to stop the proliferation of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export facilities. It is urgent that your Administration take bold steps to build a green energy economy and encourage the same worldwide. Your pledge to decarbonize and replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy sources requires rolling back the Trump Administration’s efforts to expand dirty fossil fuels and rescue the failing Oil and Gas Industry, through its policy of “energy dominance.” Immediate action is needed by your Administration to roll back Mr. Trump’s Executive Order and subsequent rulemaking to allow the transport of LNG by rail. This is a reckless and potentially catastrophic deregulation that endangers millions of Americans. Another immediate need is to stop the Trump Administration’s changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) through categorical exclusions for LNG export facilities. Such changes undermine essential protection afforded in NEPA’s environmental review process. Furthermore, you should use your executive authority to issue an Executive Order halting gas exports to the fullest extent allowed by the Natural Gas Act. Overall, your immediate action is needed to stop the expansion of LNG that serves only special interests, puts profits over people, and leaves the public and the environment in harm’s way.