Lake Charles LNG: “This Is Such a Bad Plan”

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade hosted a talk about the exacerbating climate change issues that will have on our environment – locally, nationally, and globally – if the proposed Lake Charles LNG Terminals continue on course.

“These exploit terminals are harming our coasts, driving up costs for all Americans,” said James Hiatt, the Southwest Louisiana Coordinator for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

The talk was held in Cameron Parish, on the property of John Allaire, who is a retired environmental engineer. Allaire has owned the property since 1998, and the LNG facility was not there – that neighbor joined in January of 2022.

The land is just about 400-yards from the Gulf of Mexico, and it is in the direct line of sight of the LNG import terminal – or as Hiatt called it an “exploit terminal.”

“We’re exporting our national security future and our national security future and our economic future here in the United States so a few exporters, producers, and pipeliners can generate huge profits,” said Allaire, who has worked with Amoco and BP in the Gulf since 1980. “And every one of those profits, you look at your own electric bill, your food costs, you’re paying. Your money is going into their pockets as profit.”

The Lake Charles LNG Terminal has been a point of heated contention over recent years. The Lake Charles LNG, which stands for liquefied natural gas, provides terminal service for shippers at facility for both storage and delivering of the gas to shippers in liquid and gaseous states. 

In 2006, the site was expanded to include a second ship berth and a new LNG storage tank. This increased the terminal storage capacity to 9 billion cubic feet. Sustained sendout capacity was increased in the same year, increasing the capacity to 1.8 billion cubic feet per day. 

In 2015, the United States energy regulator approved the Lake Charles LNG Project for a plant expansion project, and three years later, the site sought a permit to extend the construction start deadline to 2019. 

JPMorgan Chase was appointed the financial advisor and mandated lead arranger for the project in February of 2020. Shell exited the project a month later in response to market changes due to plunging gas prices caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Lake Charles LNG is still waiting for an air permit from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. There also have been no supply agreements or contracts announced by the project developers as of September 2021. And, another three-year extension to complete the terminal was requested in February of 2022.

If the project was to move forward, however, the environmental threats that it holds on Louisiana and the climate in general are very foreboding, as Hiatt and Allaire shared in their talk.

The construction of the additional seven gas export terminals, to create a total of ten, will be in a “fragile coastal area that currently serves as a buffer from storms,” according to the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which works with neighborhoods impacted by pollution due to their close proximity to oil refineries, chemical plants, and other petrochemical infrastructures. 

Allaire noted how there have been four hurricanes over the past two decades in the area of the proposed facility. The water would be between 5 to 20 feet for each weather event as well. The coast has been diminishing as well. Allaire said that his property has lost over 50 yards of his tree frontage and now they are just down to shell beach, which is eroded and headed down to the southwest.

These wetlands, however, serve as a habitat for animals, including the migrating waterfowl that comes down during the springtime, and protection to store flood water and improve water quality.

“It makes no sense to keep doing what we’re doing,” Allaire said. “We need to protect our own energy security here in the United States and limit these (gas export terminal) facilities, especially in the most sensitive marshland habitats in the state of Louisiana.

According to Commonwealth LNG, gas export terminals export over 19 million tons per day of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants.

While natural gas is sometimes described as a “transition fuel” in response to the climate crisis as it halves carbon dioxide emission of black coal, it still causes plenty of issues. The International Energy Agency warned in 2019 that it is not a great method to stay on, warning that the world needs to rapidly move to clean energy quickly. LNG developments leak methane, which lasts in the atmosphere for about 12 years and warms the Earth about 28 times more than the same amount of CO2 would.

Global Energy Monitor researchers found that methane emissions from LNG extraction could have as large or even large effects on global heat as coal power.

Even though the natural gas is used for heat, electricity, fertilizers, vehicles, and more, there are extremely negative effects for using them.

“The facility would destroy the coast, exacerbate climate change, and cause water and air pollution, all while exporting most of the gas to Asia and failing to ameliorate domestic gas prices or Europe’s gas shortage,” the Louisiana Bucket Brigade noted.

And on an economic standpoint, Lake Charles LNG doesn’t help the locals either. While companies may claim to be bringing jobs to Southwest Louisiana, which has been devastated in recent months by natural disasters, everyone in America is affected not only by the costs.

“It will kill US jobs,” Allaire said. “It will kill US industries…This is such a bad plan to do what we’re doing.”

Fuel exports from Louisiana to China have risen from 6,851 million cubic feet in 2019 to 449,667 million cubic feet last year. That is a 6,564 percent increase in just two years.

“These gas export terminals are harming Americans, especially the most marginalized and lower- and fixed-income Americans,” Hiatt said.

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