One project in particular, the CP2 export terminal, "would be the most harmful facility built in the United States," one frontline activist said as campaigners delivered petition signatures.
Climate and environmental justice campaigners on Thursday delivered more than 200,000 petition signatures calling on the Biden administration to reject the Calcasieu Pass 2, or CP2, liquefied natural gas export facility as well as all other planned LNG infrastructure.
Environmental advocates and progressive lawmakers have been increasingly raising the alarm about CP2 and the broader expansion in LNG exports, pointing out that they put both the U.S. climate goals and frontline Gulf Coast communities at risk. CP2, for example, would emit 20 times as many greenhouse gases as the controversial Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.
"CP2, the proposed liquefied natural gas project that is proposed to come right in my backyard, where me and my children live, would be the most harmful facility built in the United States," Roishetta Ozane, founder and director of the Louisiana-based mutual aid organization Vessel Project, said in front of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The petition, circulated by Fossil Free Media, urged President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to halt all new approvals for LNG export projects until the DOE changes how it determines whether such projects serve the public interest.
"It is critical that DOE assess the climate, environmental justice, and consumer impacts when determining whether exports are in the public interest, especially as the agency considers its current pipeline of nearly 20 LNG export projects under review," the petition reads in part.
It first argues that exporting LNG will hurt U.S. energy customers, since exporting the fuel would raise domestic prices. Second, it points to a Sierra Club analysis finding that existing and proposed LNG export facilities would have the same impact on the climate over their lifetimes as 675 coal plants.
"We are already overburdened and overflowing with fossil fuel extractive industry."
"Every time the United States approves a new LNG facility, that is giving us 30 more years of pollution," Ozane said Thursday. "How are we going to meet our climate goals? We are contributing to this climate catastrophe that we are in."
The petition also points out that CP2 and other LNG export facilities would only increase the local pollution burden on communities in the Gulf Coast already disproportionately impacted by the oil, gas, and petrochemical activities. Frontline activists have highlighted that Venture Global, the company behind CP2, has a history of environmental violations. Its Calcasieu Pass terminal, after which CP2 would be modeled, violated its air permit more than 2,000 times during its first year of operations.
During the petition delivery, Ozane said that she has to call her children inside every time that gas or smoke flares from one of the 12 petrochemical facilities in her vicinity, adding that she was "afraid of the air that they are breathing."
"We are already overburdened and overflowing with fossil fuel extractive industry," Ozane said. "We don't need any more."
After delivering the signatures to the DOE, the activists then presented them at the headquarters of Venture Global.
Ozane noted that the petition delivery comes as world leaders gather for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates. Ozane said that she would attend the conference next week to let the delegates know that the U.S. was not keeping its climate promises as it plans to expand LNG exports.
350.org and Third Act co-founder Bill McKibben, who publicized the fight against the LNG buildout in a September New Yorker article, has noted that, while climate accounting rules don't count a country's fossil fuel exports as part of its total emissions, they still contribute to the climate crisis.
"If this buildout continues, and if you counted the emissions from this gas against America's totals, it would mean that American greenhouse gas emissions would not have budged since 2005," McKibben wrote on his Substack.
But climate activists like McKibben and Ozane are hoping that the Biden administration will heed their warnings and stop the LNG expansion.
"With the agency's pending decision on the CP2 export application, in particular, the stakes could not be higher," the petition concludes. "Please do the right thing and stop approving these projects that hurt our climate, communities, and economy."
McKibben celebrated Thursday's action on social media.
"200,000 signatures is nothing to sneeze at," he tweeted, "and my sense is this fight is just going to grow!"