Mar 08, 2022
A coalition of 120 progressive advocacy groups on Tuesday urged the six largest U.S. banks to stop financing new and expanded gas export facilities in the Gulf Coast region, emphasizing that supporting the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels is a bad investment that endangers working people, biodiverse habitats, and the planet at large.
"When banks finance fracked gas projects, they're funding the creation of sacrifice zones," John Beard, founder and president of Port Arthur Community Action Network, said in a statement. "The fossil fuel industry in Southeast Texas has swallowed up our local economies, poisoned our air and water, and contributed to the increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes that we're still recovering from."
"We need to see investment in renewable energy jobs and coastal restoration, not more polluting and destructive infrastructure."
"My home of Port Arthur is already inundated with fossil fuel and petrochemical industry, yet there are several fracked gas export terminals that could still be built here," added Beard, whose organization is a coalition member.
According to the Sierra Club, another coalition member, "More than 20 new and expanded export facilities are currently proposed to liquefy and ship methane gas from the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana to foreign markets."
Fossil fuel industry proponents "have attempted to use current fears of gas shortages in Europe to build support for this massive build-out of new export facilities," noted the Sierra Club, "despite the fact that this expansion would do nothing to alleviate these concerns in the short term, and would only serve to lock in decades of dependence on fossil fuels at a time when a shift in the opposite direction is necessary."
Although scientists have warned repeatedly that halting new fossil fuel projects is necessary to have a chance at averting the most catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis, extraction is on the rise in the U.S., which earlier this year became the world's top exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The last decade's drilling and fracking boom turned the Permian Basin into the most productive oil and gas field in the world, and Congress' decision to lift a ban on crude exports in late 2015 precipitated a surge in the construction of pipelines and related infrastructure.
Despite mounting evidence of the deadly toll of fossil fuels, President Joe Biden has yet to use his executive authority to cancel nearly two dozen fracked gas export projects that are set to unleash pollution equivalent to roughly 400 new coal-fired power plants.
"It is imperative that we stop these methane gas export terminals to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and adhere to domestic and international climate goals and commitments, including the Paris agreement and the Global Methane Pledge," the coalition wrote in letters sent to the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Citi, and Bank of America.
"If your institution continues to support these dangerous projects, it faces both substantial financial risk--as renewables outcompete oil and gas--and significant reputational damage--as the public urgently demands responsible and sustainable investment practices," added the coalition, which is composed of groups working in the Gulf Coast region, as well as national environmental and Indigenous rights groups representing millions of members and supporters.
\u201cGulf communities already face the burden of decades environmental racism and worsening climate-driven disasters caused by fossil fuel emissions. Banks have a responsibility to stop this destruction. \n\nRead the letter to US bank majors: https://t.co/ubquPvFang\u201d— Ad\u00e8le Shraiman (@Ad\u00e8le Shraiman) 1646769317
Adele Shraiman, a representative for the Sierra Club's Fossil Free Finance campaign, stressed that "new and expanded fracked gas export terminals would exacerbate the climate crisis and threaten the health and safety of already vulnerable communities in the Gulf Coast."
"Big banks should do the right thing for the climate, for communities, and for their own bottom line by steering clear of these risky, toxic investments."
In addition, said Shraiman, "they also face significant public opposition and legal challenges that put them at risk of becoming stranded assets or never being completed at all."
A new report released Tuesday by Global Energy Monitor details how the nation's proposed LNG export terminals are struggling to secure buyers because they face "competition from lower-priced international producers, pressure from cheap renewables, and tightening climate commitments."
According to the analysis, none of the new LNG export terminals that have been proposed in the U.S. reached final investment decisions or advanced to the construction phase in 2021.
If new or expanded fracked gas export facilities were to be built in the Gulf, it would jeopardize "one of the most ecologically and economically productive regions in the world," wrote the coalition.
Furthermore, the groups argued, the rise of U.S. fossil fuel exports in recent years has resulted in a "growing perception that oil and gas companies, and their funders, are exploiting consumers and driving up heating costs in the United States, in an unrelenting thirst for exporting gas to the highest international bidder."
"Financing the continued expansion of methane gas exports is not worth the risk," added the coalition, "as mounting competition from greener technologies and increasing public opposition forecast a grim future for these projects and the banks that invest in them."
Instead, said Shraiman, "big banks should do the right thing for the climate, for communities, and for their own bottom line by steering clear of these risky, toxic investments."
Beard, meanwhile, said that "we need to see investment in renewable energy jobs and coastal restoration, not more polluting and destructive infrastructure."
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