WASHINGTON — Today, more than 100 organizations are calling on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to require his agencies to consider the impacts offshore oil and liquefied methane gas (LNG) export terminals will have on the climate when reviewing their applications.
The letter comes as the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) finalizes best practices for federal agencies to use when evaluating greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts of projects proposed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Secretary of Transportation can direct the Maritime Administration to apply draft guidelines released earlier this year to six deepwater port applications off the coast of Texas and Louisiana — GulfLink, Blue Marlin, Bluewater, New Fortress Energy Louisiana FLNG, West Delta LNG, and Grand Isle LNG.
Building and investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure like offshore terminals locks in decades of new sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government approved Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT) last year, the largest oil export terminal in the U.S that will have the capacity of a quarter of all the oil the U.S. currently exports each day. Combined, the four proposed oil terminals would emit three times what the U.S. emits each year.
Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that building new fossil fuel infrastructure would make it more difficult to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and would lock in high GHG emissions for decades. If the Biden administration goes forward with these six projects, it would derail the country’s climate goals and ensure that the rest of the world suffers the same fate.
The following statements are from organizations who signed the letter:
“The Department of Transportation must carefully evaluate the impact that offshore oil and LNG terminals have on the Gulf Coast and on the climate as a whole,” said Roishetta Sibley Ozane- Founder Vessel Project of Louisiana. “We cannot overlook these consequences in the face of the climate crisis. It is time to prioritize the long-term well-being of our environment and communities over short-term gains. Our children’s future depends on it.”
“Amidst the challenges posed by rising sea levels and increasingly severe storms, the approval of new offshore oil and gas export terminals compounds our climate crisis and significantly affects communities,” said James Hiatt, Director of For a Better Bayou. “It is crucial for agencies like DOT and MARAD to adhere to CEQ’s GHG guidance, meaningfully evaluating greenhouse gas emissions during their reviews. These terminals would contribute massive releases of these harmful gases and are completely incompatible with our collective best interests. Their operation will lead to increased consumer costs, imposing further burdens on communities. As responsible stewards, government agencies must prioritize informed decision-making, considering the repercussions on both human welfare and the well-being of our planet over corporate profiteering.”
“Coastal communities in Texas are already worried about our poor public health and hurricanes, yet this administration is pushing to increase these risks,” said Melanie Oldham, Founder and Director of Better Brazoria. “We have shown adamant opposition to more export terminals, but no one is listening. Biden and his agencies must address our concerns about air pollution and the effects of greenhouse gasses before it’s too late.”
“President Biden and the DOT must address the climate crisis or they will not make a healthy, livable planet for the future,” said Joanie Steinhaus, Ocean Director for Turtle Island Restoration Network. “There are numerous proposed LNG and export facilities for the Gulf South, and the permitting agencies must look at the cumulative impacts from greenhouse gas emissions to public health, the environment, and global warming and not look at each facility individually.”
“Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg will make history one way or the other – either by helping end the world’s reliance on fossil fuels or putting us on a collision course with climate catastrophe. It’s painfully clear that new U.S. deepwater ports put the entire planet in deep water,” said Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment. “If this Administration continues to approve them, they choose a legacy of disaster and destruction. We want to believe that Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg will meet this moment and fairly and fully weigh the climate, health, environmental, and economic impacts of their decisions.”
“If the Department of Transportation approves another mega-polluting offshore export terminal, it will push the world closer to climate catastrophe,” said Kelsey Crane, Senior Policy Advocate at Earthworks. “This administration’s continued expansion of fossil fuels contradicts the promises Biden made to all of us when he said he would tackle the climate crisis.”
“Offshore oil and LNG terminals are worsening the climate crisis, which is already having destructive impacts like worsening wildfires, droughts, floods, and heat extremes in our region,” said Micah Parkin, Executive Director at 350 Colorado. “Additionally, fracking for gas and oil in Colorado is the biggest cause of our severe air quality problems, and it’s poisoning frontline communities. Our federal agencies should lead the way with policies to align with climate scientists calling for a rapid transition off fossil fuels to protect our states, nation, and planet.”
“No religion says that we should destroy the planet, but that is exactly what the U.S. does by approving one new fossil fuel project after another. These LNG projects will facilitate more fracked gas, releasing climate-wrecking methane pollution for decades to come,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director at GreenFaith. “The recent wildfires in Canada, and heatwaves and floods across the U.S., are a sign that the climate crisis is rapidly worsening. We need to end all new fossil fuel development and accelerate a transition to energy solutions that truly protect the planet and create a compassionate, loving and just world.”
“Everyday we deal with the morbidity and mortality that are the results of the fossil fuel industry. The fossil fuel industry also contributes to the rising morbidity and mortality rates from the impacts of climate change. Although it is important to tally the costs of these impacts, we must not forget that these statistics are talking about human lives, lives of our relatives,” said Tammy Murphy, Advocacy Director at Physicians for Social Responsibility – Pennsylvania. “The profit-driven corporations have created sacrifice zones. The fact that government agencies keep permitting these for-profit, corporate, fossil fuel projects without consideration of the associated morbidity and mortality rates is an act of state-sanctioned violence. If another country were to use these same chemicals on our residents, causing the same morbidity and mortality rates, it would be an act of war. Likewise, if non-state actors used the same toxins and caused the same rates of death and illness, they would be labeled terrorists and treated accordingly. People are literally dying. Children are dying. We can no longer ignore the negative health consequences of climate change in decisions to permit these for-profit corporations.”
“The United States has the goal of at least 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” said Barbara Wendeborn Brandom, M.D. of Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania. “Forest fires, heat domes, drought, and floods will worsen much faster if this goal is not reached. How can new oil and gas extraction facility construction, including LNG export terminals, be consistent with this goal?”
“As heatwaves, wildfires, and floods leave a trail of death and destruction across much of the country and the world, the Department of Transportation appears increasingly out of touch with reality by approving permits for deepwater crude oil and fossil gas export terminals,” said Basav Sen, Climate Policy Director at Institute for Policy Studies. “It’s past time for DOT to honestly account for the full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and environmental justice impacts of these export terminals in its permitting decisions.”
“The huge volume of CO2 emissions from the proposed deepwater ports terminals — 24 billion metric tons over the next 30 years — translates to detrimental impacts to pollution overburdened communities and amounts to yet another manifestation of environmental injustice,” said Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, PhD, Sustainable Communities Program Director at Green Latinos. “We are deeply concerned about the Maritime Administration’s approval of new offshore oil and gas export terminals and urge DOT Sec. Buttigieg and others in the Administration to carefully review these plans and fully consider their harms.”
“A ‘whole of government’ approach to fighting climate change requires every federal department to use its distinct powers to stave off—not irreversibly deepen—the climate emergency unfolding around us,” said Hannah Story Brown, Senior Researcher at The Revolving Door Project. “This is a vital moment for the Secretary of Transportation to use the tools at his disposal to act wisely. Ignoring the CEQ’s interim NEPA guidance and rubber-stamping these major new oil and gas export terminals would not just be a lasting stain on Secretary Buttigieg’s legacy; it would also enable irreversible damage to our climate in the name of profit.”
“The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report has stated that the world is on track to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next decade. The United States has emitted more than a quarter of all historical carbon dioxide,” said Natalie Mebane, Vice President of Government Affairs at Rise to Thrive. “The expansion of fossil fuels flies in the face of science and commonsense. We cannot reduce our emissions to what the science says is necessary to avoid irreversible ecological collapse if we continue to build new fossil fuel infrastructure. With record land and ocean temperatures being recorded daily, no one can deny that we are in a climate emergency. It is time to act like it.”
“Approval of new oil and liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminals locks the U.S., and the world, into more greenhouse gas pollution and decades of continued reliance on fossil fuels. This is incompatible with the scale of the climate crisis we face,” said Aaditi Lele, Zero Hour Policy Director. “We urge the Department of Transportation to apply the improved CEQ guidance to ongoing reviews of proposed projects under the National Environmental Policy Act. The government has a responsibility to the public to ensure that ongoing evaluation of potential offshore and deep water LNG terminals addresses the potential greenhouse gas impacts, considers community concerns and public comments, and addresses the administration’s own commitments to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”