Rebekah Staub, Permian-Gulf Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, DC– Earthworks, with partners, sent a letter today urging the Department of Energy (DOE) to take long overdue action in response to a petition for rulemaking regarding liquefied methane gas (LNG) export policy filed by the groups in 2013. Friends of the Earth, Environment America, Delaware Riverkeeper, and the Center for Biological Diversity also signed the petition and joined the Sierra Club in sending today’s letter. The original petition points to the fact that DOE has never specifically articulated a policy for reviewing LNG export applications. Without such a policy, DOE has failed to weigh the environmental and public health impacts of increased fracked gas production for export, nor adequately consider the economic impacts on American consumers who face higher energy prices in the face of increased exports of that gas overseas.
A number of environmental, consumer advocacy, and community groups not affiliated with the original petition also submitted letters to DOE laying out why this review of gas export policy is so crucial for public health, economic justice, and the climate. This included around 50 total signers on letters from Gulf Coast community groups, environmental justice organizations led by WE ACT for Environmental Justice, consumer and economic justice groups led by Public Citizen, and a broad coalition of environmental and community organizations led by the National Resources Defense Council’s Sustainable FERC Project.
Sierra Club’s letter (as well as the original petition) calls on DOE to put in place updated regulations or guidance for gas exports that set clear rules for determining whether those applications are in the public interest, as required by law under the Natural Gas Act. It also asks DOE to open a public comment period to inform this guidance, in order to solicit input from affected stakeholders. While a transparent framework for evaluating gas export applications was needed in 2013, it is an even more pressing issue today, as the climate crisis deepens and over 20 export facilities are proposed in the U.S. Today, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its 2022 World Energy Outlook doubling down on its groundbreaking call last year that we must end licensing and finance for new fossil fuel extraction globally if we are to avoid the most damaging impacts of global warming. IEA also notes that fossil fuels are not the solution to energy security or affordability concerns.
Sited primarily in communities of color, proposed LNG export facilities would perpetuate environmental injustice. New and expanded gas export facilities would harm Gulf Coast communities that are already overburdened by industrial pollution from the fossil fuel industry as well as the effects of extreme weather driven by climate change. A new Sierra Club US LNG tracker illustrates the outsized impacts of LNG export pollution and emissions on these communities.
Exports also affect Americans across the country through higher energy prices. According to the EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook 2022, the average US household that heats primarily with gas will spend 62% more this winter for gas bills than two years ago. Both EIA and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission acknowledge LNG exports play a role in this drastic price increase, a burden that is especially hard to bear for fixed- and low-income households.
Melanie Oldham, Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Water of Brazoria County’s Founder and Chairman, said:
“In June 2022, an explosion at Freeport LNG literally rocked my community. Liquefying and transporting compressed gas is an inherently risky process, and communities like mine on the frontlines of these export facilities bear the brunt of this risk not only in the form of explosions, but also high levels of air pollution, disruption to our fishing and tourism industries, and increasingly powerful climate-change-induced hurricanes and storms. It is important that the Biden Administration take into account these costs to communities like mine before permitting LNG export facilities.”