Gulf Coast Groups Respond to Biden’s EU Task Force: Don’t Turn the Gulf Into A Fracked Gas Sacrifice Zone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 25, 2022

Press Contact: Dustin Renaud, dustin@healthygulf.org, 228-209-2194

This morning, President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the development of plans to help the EU end its reliance on Russian gas in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The announcement lays out strategies to both expand the supply of US-produced gas to Europe and to reduce Europe’s need for fossil fuels. Gulf Coast communities are speaking out against any plans the Task Force may develop to expand gas exports as this will endanger their communities and environment, which are already overburdened by industry presence.

The impacts of Biden’s decision will be felt far and wide, especially along the fracking cycle from the Permian Basin to the Gulf Coast. Expanding gas exports from the US will drive up the demand for fracking in the Permian Basin, where there’s little regulation on flaring, managing contaminated fracking wastewater, and methane pollution. Fracked gas is 90% methane, a potent greenhouse gas 85 times stronger than carbon dioxide at warming our climate. Fracked gas export terminals proposed along Texas’ and Louisiana’s Gulf Coast would be built in hurricane zones prone to flooding and on delicate wetlands that protect the coast from natural disasters. 

Expanding US gas exports to Europe will do nothing to help Europe in the short-term, as building new gas export and import terminals will take years and billions of dollars to complete. For example, Golden Pass LNG in Houston, the only export terminal under full construction, began construction in 2019 and will not be completely online until 2024. Expanding exports will lock the US and the EU into burning gas for decades at the expense of Gulf Coast communities and will not help the US or the EU achieve their climate goals.

Roishetta Ozane, founder of Vessel Project and Healthy Gulf Organizer, said: 

“President Biden, if you are true in your word in wanting to defend environmental justice communities, then you must prioritize actions that will actually protect us. That includes stopping the fracked gas LNG build out along the Gulf Coast. More than twenty export facilities have been proposed along the Gulf Coast, specifically in Texas and Louisiana. Here in Southwest Louisiana, we are already infiltrated with industry, both with petrochemical facilities and LNG. We’ve had enough. We will no longer sit idly by and become a sacrifice zone to Big Oil and Big Gas. We are tired. Come here to Lake Charles: Do you remember the city you came to after Hurricane Laura and Delta, and you stood in front of the I-10 Bridge, the bridge that is 25 years past due to be rebuilt, and has even not received funding to be reconstructed? Many of our residents still have blue tarps from those hurricanes, and many of those residents living in FEMA housing just received notice to vacate by April 1, less than a 30 day notice. We have too many issues in Southwest Louisiana that we feel like people aren’t taken seriously. We feel like we are being left behind. President Biden, come back to Southwest Louisiana and tell us if you want to save us or continue to make us a sacrifice.” 

John Beard, founder and CEO of Port Arthur Community Action Network, said:

“Here’s the deal: Increasing gas exports to the EU will exacerbate environmental racism and environmental injustices in the Gulf. Routinely, communities of color across the Gulf bear the brunt of air and water pollution, get displaced due to industry operations, and receive inadequate hurricane relief while fossil fuel corporations are getting billion-dollar tax breaks to pollute our neighborhoods. This has been true for decades, but the Biden Administration and the EU are preparing to give the fossil fuel industry a greenlight to transform the Gulf Coast into a “sacrifice zone” for fracked gas. President Biden cannot call himself a climate president while ignoring the needs and reality of impacted communities. I invite the President, his energy cabinet and advisors to see for himself, visit our communities, and consider what his actions have on our lives and health.” 

Emma Guevara, Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Valley organizer for the Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign, said: 

“Rio Grande Valley residents and the Indigenous communities of South Texas have been resisting the fracked gas buildout for over half a decade, and through community pressure and international organizing with allies in Europe, we have successfully stopped one of the proposed export terminals, Annova LNG, from ever getting built here. The Biden administration and the EU’s Task Force plans to export more gas from the Gulf is not only dangerous, it is deaf to the clear vocal opposition from Rio Grande Valley residents who want to protect their health and environment. Even in hearing this news, we are unwavering in our message: The Rio Grande Valley is not a sacrifice zone to fossil fuels and we will continue to defend the Gulf from polluting and extractive industry.” 

Cindy Robertson, Executive Director of Micah 6:8 Mission, said:

“Southwest Louisiana has been struggling for almost 2 years to recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020. Climate change is a reality we live with along the coast of Louisiana, and adding to the problem by expanding the US gas supply to the EU isn’t going to benefit any of us. If we want to help the EU, we need to have a long-term plan that is based on renewable energy resources and not resources that are going to be short-term, which is what fossil fuel is now. Putting these gas export terminals along the Gulf Coast is asking for trouble, as our hurricanes become stronger, and happen more often. And the impact that the increased air pollution will have on our communities, when we aren’t currently monitoring the cumulative impact of air pollution, won’t be observed on data sheets, but in the exacerbation of the adverse health effects we are already experiencing.”

Naomi Yoder, Healthy Gulf’s Staff Scientist, said: 

“Gulf communities are already seeing the impacts of global sea level rise, land loss, and stronger hurricanes, all because of fossil fuel dependence. Furthermore, expansion of fossil gas export facilities wouldn’t help any short term supply issues. Big Gas corporations want to build dangerous, unnecessary, polluting gas export facilities in the heart of hurricane alley on some of the lowest lying land in the US. Expansion of US gas exports would be a disaster waiting to happen.”