Our Climate Can’t Afford Trump’s LNG Export Pet Project

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Early in Donald Trump’s presidency, his administration threw its support behind the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility and the associated Pacific Connector pipeline, which are proposed for Coos Bay, Oregon. Given Trump’s track record, it should surprise no one that this project would be a terrible deal for the American people and for the planet’s climate.

You don’t have to take my word for how bad this project is: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an agency that only makes news when it doesn't rubber-stamp fossil fuel proposals, has already rejected this proposal twice on the grounds that it is “inconsistent with the public interest.” Nevertheless, in yet another effort to prioritize the interests of corporate polluters over American communities, the Trump administration wants to revive it.

FERC had it right the first two times. The Jordan Cove terminal would threaten Oregon’s clean water and marine ecosystems, trample the rights of Native Tribes and local landowners, and also significantly contribute to an increase in LNG exports that would be a disaster for our climate.

Contrary to the claims of the project’s supporters, building new LNG facilities would not reduce dangerous climate pollution by replacing coal. In fact, a new analysis from Oil Change International released this week shows that the Jordan Cove project would result in more than 36.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. That would make it more than 15 times more polluting than Oregon’s Boardman coal-fired power plant, which is scheduled for retirement in 2020. Those figures are based on a conservative methane leakage rate of 1.77 percent over the lifecycle (extraction, piping, processing, transporting, and burning) of the gas that would be exported from the terminal each year. In reality, the leakage rate could be as high as 4 percent.

The extreme weather events of this past year have made it clear that we can’t afford to fool ourselves when it comes to combating climate change. Swapping out one type of dirty fossil fuel for another is no solution -- especially when, as in this case, the amount of carbon pollution would actually be far greater. Anytime we replace a retiring coal plant with new gas projects, we are in effect locking in decades of fossil fuel pollution and making it harder to transition to clean energy sources like wind and solar. That's true whether the gas is burned in Japan or the U.S., and it hurts our climate regardless.

Expanding LNG exports from the U.S. would also mean more fracking for gas in the U.S., along with the air and water pollution that comes with it. We should be leading the global movement toward clean, renewable energy, not polluting our communities at home for the sake of shipping dirty fuels abroad and enriching the giant Canadian pipeline corporation that's backing this project.