January 26, 2024

Orgs across the state celebrate hold on Port Arthur, Corpus Christi LNG projects 

Port Arthur, Texas – Early this morning, the Biden Administration announced a pause on all pending approvals for gas export facilities, amounting to what is being called one of the most important moves President Joe Biden has made in addressing climate change. According to the announcement, the Department of Energy (DOE) will halt approvals of liquified gas exports, known as LNG, while the agency reviews its criteria for determining if a project is in the public interest.

The 12 impacted projects in the U.S. would spew out as much climate-warming pollution as 223 coal plants per year, and they present explosion risks to the communities where they’re located and emit other health-harming chemicals. They’re just a handful of the total 35+ planned or under-construction LNG facilities, most of which are located along the Gulf Coast. The pause will not apply to LNG export facilities already in operation.

Major expansions sought for two LNG facilities in Texas – Port Arthur LNG and Corpus Christi Midscale – have been paused while this review proceeds. While two LNG facilities proposed in Brownsville have already been approved by DOE and are not directly subject to the announcement, but face additional hurdles with federal court challenges, the pause sends a clear message that such projects are not good for our communities and continue to be risky investments.

Though the DOE and the Federal Energy Regulation Commission have never once denied approval to a proposed LNG project, amounting to decades of pollution and destruction in largely marginalized communities of color, the gas industry in Texas and the elected officials to whom they donate are loudly complaining about the pause that puts them one step closer – yet still high above – the playing field that normal people reside on.

In response to the announcement, climate and environmental justice advocates across Texas issued the following statements:

Dave Cortez, Director, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter:
“Today’s action is what these communities deserve, and it’s what must happen to secure a future for our children where the worst effects of climate change can be mitigated. The Gulf South has historically been overlooked by other climate actions, so this feels like a much-needed decision. It remains to be seen what will come of the ‘Biden Pause’ to secure a safer and healthier future. In the meantime, we’ll continue to fight the industry that thinks it deserves no check on its massive power – and we’ll continue to push the Administration to consider the rights of all humans to live free from fear, whether its fear of pollution, climate change, or war.”

Melanie Oldham, Director, Clean Air & Clean Water Better Brazoria:
“I want to thank the administration for the pause in granting new licenses to LNG export facilities. Last year, when Freeport LNG exploded and sent a fireball into the air, we witnessed firsthand the dangers of these massive projects, and I hope that this pause is the first of many steps the administration takes in making sure no other LNG terminal gets built. However, the fight is not over. Freeport LNG continues to operate recklessly in my town, and we will not stop until they shut it down.”

Emma Guevara, Brownsville Organizer, Sierra Club: 
“We are grateful for the pause in these dangerous and destructive oil and gas export terminals. While this is definitely a huge and monumental win that should be celebrated, we must not lose sight of the continued movement against the projects that aren’t directly impacted, like Rio Grande and Texas LNG in Brownsville. If built, these terminals would be the largest polluters in our already vulnerable, primarily low-income border region. Our home is constantly used as a sacrifice zone, and we deserve to live safe and healthy lives too. This is why we will continue to fight the projects, which should have even less appeal to investors considering today’s announcement.”

Elida Castillo, Director, Chispa Texas:
“We thank the Biden-Harris administration for listening to our communities experiencing the devastating impacts of massive oil and gas exports firsthand. This is a hopeful and critical step forward to prioritize people over polluters for our future generations and our communities along the Gulf coast. After record-breaking heat across the country last year, this major action is crucial to combat the climate crisis and environmental injustice, especially for our communities most harmed by toxic pollution from oil and gas extraction. For too long, Big Polluters have been allowed to export more fossil fuels year after year regardless of the cost to communities who are living with even more consequences from toxic pollution, consumers across the country already facing higher costs and unreliable energy sources, and more impacted communities by our reliance on fossil fuels. Despite what Big Oil wants us to believe, renewables are bringing down the energy costs for everyone. This is the path to a more sustainable and equitable clean energy future that stabilizes our economy and supports our domestic energy security.”