Hold Please: Biden pauses LNG expansion, puts public health over fossil fuel profits

Hold Please: Biden pauses LNG expansion, puts public health over fossil fuel profits

As the world transitions away from coal, new energy sources are needed to fill the gap. We know clean, renewable energy like wind and solar are the cheapest and best options for the planet, but unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry still stands to make massive profits from energy sources like Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

In an exciting announcement from the Biden Administration, for the first time, the Department of Energy (DOE) has paused approvals for new LNG terminal projects. The pause will remain in effect while DOE develops a process to evaluate new terminals’ impact on the climate and domestic energy prices.

What is the environmental impact of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)?

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is methane gas that is liquefied so it can be transported long distances. However, due to the fracking process, leaks from pipelines, and the fuel needed for transportation, the climate impact of exporting LNG is likely worse than burning local coal.

That has not stopped the fossil fuel industry from claiming LNG as a “clean” fuel by pointing to the fact that at the source of ignition, natural gas produces less particulate matter than coal. While LNG may be slightly better for air quality, it still produces emissions that are rapidly warming the planet. The fossil fuel industry is planning to build large export terminals to ship record amounts of this domestic energy supply overseas, but these need approval from the Department of Energy (DOE).

Fossil fuel lobbyists are working overtime to prevent the Department of Energy from implementing these important safeguards to protect our health and our planet. The industry has begun a massive disinformation campaign to mislead consumers about the supposed benefits of LNG. They claim these terminals are needed for energy security but exporting methane gas overseas could dramatically increase domestic energy prices and utility rates here at home as supply thins and prices rise. 

What does this mean moving forward?

We need to quickly move to renewable energy sources at home. Any price spike would hurt working families, particularly those in poor rural and BIPOC communities.

Industry has used the war in Ukraine as a rationale for building these export terminals and there was a temporary need for the United States to export LNG to ensure energy security across Europe — but new renewable energy and energy efficiency developments have largely diffused the need for these exports. 

Fossil fuel executives want you to believe LNG exports are needed for “national security,” but the vast majority of U.S. LNG exports are being purchased by China and resold across Asian markets. China is already the leading importer of American LNG and newly proposed terminals already have contracts to sell to Chinese firms. 

One particular proposed export terminal project, the Calcasieu Pass 2 (CP2) would generate 20 times the equivalent emissions of the Willow Project in Alaska. CP2 is one of the firms contracted to sell American energy products to China. This proposed project and others like it are examples of ‘carbon bombs,’ the unnecessary release of massive carbon emissions we cannot afford if we are to stop the planet’s temperature from warming. 

From a health perspective, an economic perspective, and a national security perspective, we must reject the reckless expansion of fossil fuels.

The Biden administration is taking a positive first step towards moving the United States off of our deadly fossil fuel habit. However, advocates still need to continue applying pressure to ensure these deadly terminals are never built. 

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