U.S. President Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Grand Staircase of the White House in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 2023.
(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

170 Scientists Urge Biden to Kill 'Staggering' LNG Buildout

Experts warn that expanding liquefied natural gas infrastructure will put the United States "on a continued path toward escalating climate chaos."

Echoing recent calls from frontline leaders, green groups, and healthcare workers, 170 scientists on Tuesday pressured U.S. President Joe Biden to reject a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Louisiana known as CP2 and other pending LNG projects.

"We are scientists who write to you with ever-increasing urgency as our climate continues to deteriorate to implore you to stop the dash to increase exports of liquified natural gas (LNG)," wrote the scientists, including Rose Abramoff, Robert Howarth, Mark Jacobson, Peter Kalmus, Michael Mann, Sandra Steingraber, Farhana Sultana, and Aradhna Tripati.

While stressing their opposition to Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass 2 (CP2) project, they also emphasized that "the magnitude of the proposed buildout of LNG over the next several years is staggering."

"As scientists we are telling you in clear and unambiguous terms that approving CP2 and other LNG projects will undermine your stated goals of meaningfully addressing the climate crisis."

"For years, the science has been overwhelmingly clear that we must stop expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure and rapidly transition to renewable energy. We have simply no runway left and little margin for error," the scientists warned. "In fact, we are rapidly passing tipping points that are further escalating the climate crisis."

"Altogether, the science to date shows that spiraling emissions of the climate super-pollutant methane are a major contributor to the ongoing failure to meet agreed-upon global emissions targets and stabilize the climate," they explained. "The science also shows that LNG facilities are inherently leaky operations and prodigious emitters of methane."

Their letter cites a forthcoming study by Howarth, a Cornell University scientist, that shows LNG is at least 24% worse for the climate than coal.

CP2 alone would produce over 20 times more planet-heating pollution than ConocoPhillips' Willow oil project in Alaska, which the Biden administration is also under fire for greenlighting. The letter highlights that "these climate-wrecking emissions are on top of prodigious amounts of toxic air pollutants, including carcinogenic benzene, released into local environments both from the LNG facilities themselves and the upstream drilling and fracking operations that feed them."

"LNG plants and their associated infrastructure pose serious health harms to surrounding communities and worsen environmental injustice," the scientists pointed out. "These facilities are disproportionately located in communities of color and low-income communities on the Gulf Coast already overburdened with pollution."

"You have often said that your policies will be guided by listening to the science," they wrote to Biden. "As scientists we are telling you in clear and unambiguous terms that approving CP2 and other LNG projects will undermine your stated goals of meaningfully addressing the climate crisis and put us on a continued path toward escalating climate chaos. We implore you to turn back from this course, reject CP2 and other fossil fuel export projects, and put us on a rapid and just trajectory off fossil fuels."

Opposition to CP2 may already be having some effect. Advocates had expected the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider the project this fall but so far, the agency hasn't. Louisiana Bucket Brigade director Anne Rolfes said last week that "every month it is not on the agenda, we consider a victory because it means that it's not getting part of the federal approval that it needs."

While Venture Global lacks the permission required for CP2, the Biden administration has infuriated frontline communities, scientists, and voters concerned about the climate emergency by expanding LNG exports, enabling projects like Willow and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and continuing fossil fuel lease sales for public lands and waters.

Biden, who was elected in 2020 after running on bold climate promises, is now seeking reelection next year and could again face Republican former President Donald Trump, a major ally to the fossil fuel industry.

The president "must reject new fossil fuel projects, starting with CP2, that poison communities and that will harm young people far into the future," Michele Weindling, political director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said Friday. "He can't one day cave to fossil fuel millionaires and the next throw a bone to young people. That's not how science works, and young voters know it."

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