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Keystone Foes Turn Their Fire to Natural Gas Exports

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Republicans in Congress, and some Democrats too, are pushing hard to get the U.S. exporting more natural gas, using the crisis in Ukraine as an excuse. The House is considering a bill that would require the Department of Energy to immediately approve more than 20 pending applications for natural gas export facilities.

Some of the nation's leading environmentalists, including Bill McKibben of and Michael Brune of the Sierra Club, are now launching a counter-campaign, fighting natural gas exports in general and one proposed export terminal in particular.

On Tuesday, a coalition of 16 environmental organizations sent a sternly worded letter to the White House. "President Obama, exporting LNG [liquefied natural gas] is simply a bad idea in almost every way," they write. They express irritation with Obama's enthusiasm for natural gas exploration and argue that gas exports would harm American consumers and the environment.

They also call on the Obama administration to consider the impact on greenhouse gas emissions before deciding whether to approve a proposed LNG export terminal in southern Maryland on Chesapeake Bay. The Cove Point project should be subjected to an environmental impact statement (EIS) that studies the potential effects on global warming, not just local pollution, they argue. From the letter:

[W]e are disturbed by your administration's support for hydraulic fracturing and, particularly, your plan to build liquefied natural gas export terminals along U.S. coastlines that would ship large amounts of fracked gas around the world. 

Cove Point is emblematic of the irrational and fast-track strategy of the gas industry to export U.S. fracked gas and then ask questions later. 

Demand a full Environmental Impact Statement for this massive $3.8 billion project just a short drive from your house. An EIS will put more facts on the table and, we believe, will persuade you and the nation that a pell-mell rush to export gas is a pell-mell rush to global climate ruin.

Currently the U.S. is enjoying a glut of natural gas thanks to the fracking boom, which has been heartily endorsed by Obama. In his State of the Union speech in January, he touted natural gas as a cleaner "bridge fuel" that will wean us from coal and help us transition to renewable energy.     
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