There are many misconceptions about liquefied natural gas, or LNG, but don’t be fooled: LNG has an enormous climate and infrastructure footprint that harms local communities, ecosystems, and our shared climate.
LNG is gas — mostly fracked — that is piped to the coast, supercooled, and compressed into a liquid. Due to over-extraction from fracking, the U.S. faces an oversupply of natural gas. In search of new markets, fossil fuel corporations are now looking overseas. Enter the LNG export terminal, otherwise known as the “fracked-gas terminal.”
Companies are racing to build dozens of LNG export facilities across North America. Each of these facilities connect to a maze of pipelines that are fed from fracking sites. LNG terminals span hundreds of acres, and have ships three football fields long to carry the greenhouse-gas-intensive fuel to be burned in other countries.
There are 37 of these proposed and existing facilities in the United States, with 89% along the Gulf Coast, as of 2017.
Funding Climate Change
Banks that provide loans to construct these projects, or other financial support for companies building fracked-gas terminals, share responsibility for the impacts.
As part of its new oil and gas policy, French Bank BNP Paribas committed to not finance “LNG terminals that predominantly liquefy and export gas from shale,” which should mean all LNG terminals in North America. Other banks around the world must follow suit.
The Community: Rio Grande Valley, Texas
One community facing three proposed LNG export terminals is in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, near the Mexico border, where fossil fuel corporations plan to transform the coastal landscape of the Rio Grande Valley into an industrial LNG export hub.
Most Brownsville residents are Latino/a, and over a third live in poverty, meaning these terminals pose key environmental justice concerns.
If built, the LNG terminals in Brownsville could significantly impact the local fishing, shrimping, and eco-tourism industries, with 500-foot tall flaring towers, the release of millions of gallons of effluent water, and the brown haze that would come with the estimated quadrupling of local air pollution.
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The three terminals would cover 2,356 acres — almost three times the size of New York’s Central Park — pave over hundreds of acres of wetlands, and require hundreds of miles of new pipelines. The planned facilities threaten the critical habitat of the endangered Aplomado falcon and ocelot. As of August 2015 there were only 53 ocelots left in all of Texas, all in the southern tip of the state where LNG export facilities are planned.
The gas liquefied at these terminals would be mostly fracked gas from the Eagle Ford shale in Texas.
Fracking and LNG export are connected in a vicious circle: the current oversupply of cheap fracked gas is fueling a race to build out more LNG export terminals, while plans to export LNG provide incentive for more fracking. LNG export is the fracking industry’s choke point — without being able to export their fracked gas as LNG, many fracking companies will find themselves with too much gas and too few customers.
Exporting LNG is disastrous for the climate — and these terminals show it. The three terminals would account for greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of an incredible 63 coal-fired power plants. The same climate concerns with fracking and pipelines apply here: any inevitable leaking along the way releases methane, a super potent greenhouse gas. Plus, accounting for extracting, piping, liquefying, and shipping the gas nearly doubles the carbon intensity of energy produced from RGV’s exported LNG.