US takes the global lead on liquid natural gas production and export, as economic promises and environmental worries collide.
CAMERON PARISH, La.—In southwest Louisiana, amidst natural disasters and industrial expansion, everyone’s lost something — boats, income, family, homes — Leo Dyson admits.
“The house is nothing,” Dyson, a retired commercial fisherman, told Environmental Health News (EHN) of he and his wife’s property lost to Hurricane Rita’s estimated 18-feet of storm surge in 2005. Nearly everyone in Cameron Parish, the town about three hours west of New Orleans where Dyson and his extended family have lived for generations, lost homes in the storm. “It’s your family and the town and your kid’s friends. How do you put a price on that?”
The town’s population dipped from roughly 10,000 to 5,000 in the last two decades. That exodus is exacerbated by not just hurricanes, but expansion of oil and gas refining — most recently, the building of infrastructure for liquified natural gas, or LNG.
LNG is natural gas cooled to liquid for easier storage or transport – it occupies 0.17% natural gas’ volume in its gaseous state. It’s used to generate electricity, or fueling stovetops and home heaters and in industrial processes like manufacturing fertilizer. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in January 2022, LNG has seen a historic rise in global demand. The International Energy Agency, or EIA, estimates global ability to produce and export LNG will expand by 25% between 2022 and 2026, with the U.S. taking the lead.
Across the U.S., at least 30 new LNG terminal facilities have been constructed or proposed since 2016, according to the Oil and Gas Watch project. Roughly two-thirds of the facilities will be based near the industry-heavy Gulf Coast, where five LNG facilities are already operational and where at least 22 new facilities are under construction, approved or under regulatory review. The LNG industry’s buildout has become part of a dual force, alongside the effects of climate change regionally, that are wiping out the region’s historic commercial fishing industry, fishers say.
The expansion is an attempt at creating “good-paying jobs” in the historically low-income communities of Southwest Louisiana, as Cameron Parish congressman Clay Higgins — whose office didn’t return EHN’s request for comment — described in a letter lending his support for approval of Venture Global LNG’s pipeline from Texas’ Jasper County to the parish’s terminals. Louisiana agencies estimate its LNG industry has added roughly 18,000 jobs to the state economy, with a statewide impact of more than $4.4 billion.
However, LNG’s roll-out across the region also raises fears of environmental harm, due to its role in the disintegration of marshlands, and health risks. A study published in May in the journal Environmental Research: Health found that the pollutants LNG terminals emit during production contributed to 7,500 excess deaths, 410,000 asthma attacks, and 2,200 new cases of childhood asthma nationally in 2016. Louisiana was one of five states with the highest impacts. Volatile compounds like nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter are the main culprits the Environmental Integrity Project says.
There was a time when stocks near Cameron Parish’s docks were so bountiful, commercial fishers’ morning harvests would be complete and their checks cashed by noon, Dyson recalled. Slowly, but surely, though, their lifestyle became harder, as community docks were wiped away each hurricane season, and as seafood prices plummeted while fuel costs rose. Steadily, neighbors, friends, and family left town; now, with LNG’s arrival, more claim they will follow.
Standing on the side of one of Cameron Parish’s mostly empty streets on a summer afternoon earlier this year, Dyson recounted what powerful storms and LNG expansion have erased for their community’s families. Dyson would have never followed the local exodus if not for losing their family’s home, as well as his fishing boat, which was totaled during the same storm. Today, part of him still refuses to leave. “There’s just been too much taken away from people,” he said.
The race for LNG
An LNG freight container docks at port in Cameron Parish. Two of Louisiana’s three operational LNG plants are based locally, with more in the planning or construction phases.
Credit: Xander Peters for Environmental Health News
The path leading LNG facilities and the petroleum industry to southwest Louisiana’s shores began in the 1980s, with the advent of hydraulic fracking technology. Through “fracking,” the U.S. oil and gas sector shifted from importer to exporter of fossil fuels . In 2006, the U.S. imported more than half of its oil every year. Within a decade, at the height of its fracking boom, the nation’s annual imports decreased to a quarter, while it became the world’s largest natural gas producer, the EIA reported. In 2016 — for the first time since 1957 — the U.S. sold more natural gas to other countries than it bought. The U.S. is now the world’s largest natural gas exporter, the EIA said.
Recent global pressures have accelerated LNG's domestic expansion. With Russia’s Ukraine invasion in early 2022, the Kremlin exited the global energy market. The U.S. promptly filled the gap in the European market, where Russia supplied roughly half of the continent’s needs, according to the International Energy Agency. This meant a 141% increase in LNG exports to Europe last year compared to 2021.
Energy economists describe not just Europe’s LNG needs, but emerging markets across Asia, as drivers in ongoing investment. Forecasts show natural gas is “very likely going to continue to have a very meaningful share of the overall energy mix, even in a carbon-constrained environment,” David Dismukes, an energy consultant and the former executive director of Louisiana State University’s Center for Energy Studies, told EHN. Nearly all of the U.S.-made LNG will be for export, Dismukes said.
“There’s just been too much taken away from people.” - Leo Dyson, retired commercial fisherman
As his fishing vessel motors by a large freight tanker with the letters “LNG” written on its side, 41-year-old Phillip Dyson — Leo Dyson’s nephew — leans up against the boat’s cabin. He shook his head disappointedly as he stared at the freighter next to him. He and other local fishers’ have claimed the volume of their catch dropped by as much as 90% this past shrimping season. At one point, commercial anglers estimate they brought home roughly 700,000 pounds annually.
When friends ask the younger Dyson why he won’t give up, he simply says, “This is home”
“Sometimes I’m like, ‘what am I fighting for?’ You get burned out,” Dyson said.
“But I’ve never worked another job a day in my life,” Dyson continued. “This is all I ever did.”
As the U.S. increases LNG exports, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner, or FERC approved the first large-scale LNG projects in two years. Two new LNG terminals in Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish and in Texas’ Golden Pass are expected to come online as soon as 2024, and a third export terminal, Commonwealth LNG, expects to start production in 2026 near Cameron Parish. Three more facilities — Lake Charles LNG, Driftwood LNG and Magnolia LNG — have been approved and will break ground in the area, while only one facility is under review. The Department of Energy has yet to deny a proposed LNG export, according to attorneys at the National Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Energy Program. In calling for “revised approach,” the NRDC attorneys cited how the federal agency denied a request in July to establish comprehensive LNG export guidelines or to update its current guidelines, which were set in 1984.
At an LNG and gas summit last year, Jason French,an LNG industry consultant and the executive director of McNeese State University’s LNG Center for Excellence, cited how each LNG facility built in southwest Louisiana has created between 6,000 and 10,000 temporary jobs and 300 to 500 permanent jobs, among other opportunities. (McNeese State University’s LNG Center for Excellence spokespeople did not return EHN’s request for additional comment.)
The average annual income in Cameron Parish, where most of the new facilities are proposed, is about $32,000 — 15% less than the national average — according to recent U.S. Census data.
“I’d say this is probably the last generation of shrimpers,” Leo Dyson said of his nephew’s generation of commercial fishers. Eventually, he fears, “they’ll have to do something else.”
Environmental health risks of LNG
A sign advertising shrimp sales near a fishing dock in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The region’s commercial fishers’ claim LNG industry expansion impacts the quality of local stocks.
Credit: Xander Peters for Environmental Health News
“A fisherman's life is a hard life. One day you have more money than you need and a month later you might not have any, and you've got children that you still got to provide for.”
Credit: Courtney O'Banion for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade
The Environmental Integrity Project found that LNG export terminals emit chemicals like carbon monoxide – potentially deadly – and sulfur dioxide, which the Mayo Clinic describes as potentially deadly, and sulfur dioxide, of which the American Lung Association says long-term exposure can lead to heart disease, cancer, and damage to internal or female reproductive organs.
It’s likely LNG infrastructure will contribute to the Louisiana coastline’s crisis. A March 2023 study linked the crisis to the constant engineering of the Mississippi River’s path, which constricts sediment delivery through the building of artificial levees. The oil and gas companies’ dredging of canals for navigation and transportation, as well as building new structures and infrastructure for flood control, has contributed to the crisis, the authors noted. Like past infrastructure projects, LNG export terminals often require dredging of passage to transport the product.
The fossil-fuel terminals also contribute to the climate crisis, which has already increased the intensity of extreme storms in the region – just two years ago, Hurricane Laura made history as the most powerful storm to hit Louisiana since 1856, costing $19 billion in damages; 47 deaths and the nation’s largest population exodus that year, according to local U.S. Postal Service data.
For the most part, LNG is made up of methane — a greenhouse gas that’s more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Among the 22 current LNG facility proposals, a report by the advocacy group the Sierra Club cited potential climate pollution output could be roughly equal to that of about 440 coal plants.
LNG infrastructure’s expansion has only added to the headache for locals, too. As they await a buyout on their property due to the company Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass expansion plan, the Dardar family — who relocated to Cameron Parish to continue commercial fishing — fears for their health. Their children complain of headaches.
The facilities “like to flare at night, especially when it's cloudy,” releasing pollutants, Nicole Dardar, a commercial fisher, described to EHN of facilities’ use of flare stack devices that introduce volatile compounds, like sulfur dioxide, into the atmosphere. “You can clearly see it.”
The Environmental Integrity Project found that LNG export terminals emit chemicals like carbon monoxide –potentially deadly– and sulfur dioxide, which the Mayo Clinic describes as potentially deadly, and sulfur dioxide, of which the American Lung Association says long-term exposure can lead to heart disease, cancer, and damage to internal or female reproductive organs.
A January report by the advocacy group the Louisiana Bucket Brigade cited Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass facility as one of two facilities in the region with “operational problems.” In particular, the Bucket Brigade’s researchers proved that the companies failed to report excess carbon emissions, as required under facilities’ state permit.
“There’s numerous deviations,” Shreyas Vasudevan, a campaign researcher with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, told EHN, including at least 70 in the first half of 2022 and 63 in the second. In July, following the excess emissions violations, the LDEQ ordered Venture Global, which is based in Virginia, to better comply with regulatory standards set by state and federal agencies.
During flaring events, black soot is “clearly visible from the tip of the flame, which shouldn't be allowed,” Vasudevan added. But due to existing technology, “there isn't any reliable mechanism to identify when the flare is being used improperly and to then force any action due to that.”
It also includes natural gas’ composition; for the most part, LNG is made up of methane — a greenhouse gas that’s more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Among the 22 current LNG facility proposals, a report by the advocacy group the Sierra Club cited potential climate pollution output could be roughly equal to that of about 440 coal plants.
The facilities “like to flare at night, especially when it's cloudy. You can clearly see it." - Nicole Dardar, a commercial fisher
Climate change’s consequences are already felt across the southwest Louisiana region. There was Hurricane Rita in 2005; later, hurricanes Ike and Isaac would leave their own scars. And, recently, hurricanes Laura and Delta struck the area nearly consecutively in 2020. Hurricane Laura made history as the most powerful storm to hit Louisiana since 1856; 18 feet of storm surge roared toward properties across Cameron Parish and nearby areas. Laura produced roughly $19 billion in damages; 47 died. In Lake Charles, the storms’ impact forced the nation’s largest population exodus that year, according to local U.S. Postal Service change-of-address data.
In July, following the excess emissions violations, the LDEQ ordered Venture Global, which is based in Virginia, to better comply with regulatory standards set by state and federal agencies.
LDEQ did not return EHN’s request for comment by press time.
“Sometimes it's flaring events, sometimes it's emission events,” Wilma Supra, an environmental scientist and former recipient of McArthur Foundation grant for her work in combating pollution in communities, told EHN. She added that when an LNG facility commits violations under their permit, rather than comply with state and federal regulations, companies ask for increases in permitted emissions.
For example, in March, Venture Global asked state regulators to increase its limits on nearly every air pollutant the facility releases. In June, the state Department of Environmental Quality issued the facility a compliance order. The order cited fines up to $32,500 for each day Venture Global’s facility violated state law.
A recent Reuters analysis of vessel data and gas prices estimated that between March 2022 and August 2023, the local Venture Global LNG facility sold more than $18 billion in LNG cargo.
Venture Global LNG did respond to EHN’s request for comment.
“It’s all export”
On that same warm June afternoon, as Dyson stood on Cameron Parish’s streets, he pointed to the block in front him. Their family’s house once stood there, before Rita forced them to relocate an hour away, to Lake Arthur. They never rebuilt. In their former yard, six dogs are buried. Blocks away from where their pets rest, Dyson’s parents are buried in a local cemetery, as is a brother, a sister, and his daughter. He makes the trip to his hometown to visit their graves often.
It was Rita’s impact in 2005 that was “the first major toll” locally, Dyson said.
But in 2020, “Laura just finished it,” he added, referring to the storm’s impact locally.
The storm ended Dyson’s fishing career, too, after Laura totaled his boat.
It’s “young man’s work,” Dyson said of how he’s unwilling to reenter the industry at 73 years old. “I was lucky I did it till I was 70.”
With commercial fishing no longer an option, Dyson landed a job as a diesel mechanic helping build a local LNG plant. It allowed for Dyson and his wife to return to Cameron Parish after Laura, albeit temporarily. At the time, the Dyson couple lived in a small camper trailer during the work week that they parked in an empty lot near their former home. Before Monday evenings would roll around, the Dyson couple would drive more than an hour to Cameron Parish, where they would stay until Friday evenings, when they watched the sun set over their hometown on their way back to Lake Arthur.
“It was probably the easiest job I ever did,” Dyson said of the time he spent helping build the facility. “A fisherman's life is a hard life. One day you have more money than you need and a month later you might not have any, and you've got children that you still got to provide for.”
The construction job would last for about two years, until he and others were laid off three days before the project’s completion. Dyson said he was unable to collect unemployment as a result.
Dyson, at times, grappled with what the facility would mean for Cameron Parish, as well as the nation and its domestic energy supply. He did as he watched subtle changes in the land around him. Marshland would give way for the future plant. As hunks of metal parts rose from Cameron Parish’s dirt, Dyson noticed how the birds he used to see nesting on the ground had disappeared.
He thought industrial expansion would serve the community in its time of need.
But he’s changed his mind since then.
At first, “when I was building this, I said, ‘well, the country needs energy. Fine, good enough. I'm gonna help build this thing,’” Dyson said, pointing to an LNG facility on the horizon. “It's all export.”
Some funding for this reporting was also provided by the Wake Forest University Environmental and Epistemic Justice Initiative.
CAMERON PARISH, La. — Late into the night, John Allaire watches the facility next to his home shoot 300-foot flares from stacks.
He lives within eyesight of southwest Louisiana’s salty shores, where, for decades, he’s witnessed nearly 200 feet of land between it and his property line disappear into the sea. Two-thirds of the land was rebuilt to aid the oil and gas industry’s LNG expansion. LNG — shorthand for liquified natural gas – is natural gas that's cooled to liquid form for easier storage or transport; it equates to 1/600th the volume of natural gas in a gaseous state. It’s used to generate electricity, or fuel stove tops and home heaters, and in industrial processes like manufacturing fertilizer.
In the U.S., at least 30 new LNG terminal facilities have been constructed or proposed since 2016, according to the Oil and Gas Watch project. Louisiana and Texas’ Gulf Coast, where five facilities are already operating, will host roughly two-thirds of the new LNG terminals – meaning at least 22 Gulf Coast LNG facilities are currently under construction, were recently approved to break ground or are under further regulatory review.
Although the U.S. didn’t ship LNG until 2016, when a freight tanker left, a few miles from where Cameron Parish’s LNG plants are today, last year the country became the global leader in LNG production and export volume, leapfrogging exporters like Qatar and Australia. The EIA’s most recent annual outlook estimated that between the current year and 2050, U.S. LNG exports will increase by 152%.
And it’s changed local economic estimates: last year, retired Louisiana State University professor Loren Scott’s economic forecast last year predicted an additional $36 billion in oil and gas industry spending will boost local employment by 7% over just two years.
Allaire, 68, watches how saltwater collects where rainwater once fed the area’s diminishing coastal wetlands. “We still come down here with the kids and set out the fishing rods. It's not as nice as it used to be,” he told Environmental Health News (EHN).
That intimacy with nature drew Allaire to the area when he purchased 311 acres in 1998. An environmental engineer and 30-year oil and gas industry veteran, he helped lead environmental assessments and manage clean-ups, and although retired, he still works part-time as an environmental consultant with major petroleum companies. With a lifetime of oil and gas industry expertise, he’s watched the industry's footprint spread across Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico’s fragile shores and beyond. Now that the footprints are at the edge of his backyard, Allaire is among a cohort of organizers, residents and fisher-folk in the region mobilizing to stop LNG facility construction. For him, the industry’s expansion usurps the right-or-wrong ethics he carried across his consulting career. For anglers, oil and gas infrastructure has destroyed fishing grounds and prevented smaller vessels from accessing the seafood-rich waters of the Calcasieu River.
From the view of Allaire’s white pickup truck as he drives across his property to the ocean’s shore, he points to where a new LNG facility will replace marshlands. Commonwealth LNG intends to clear the land of trees and then backfill the remaining low-lying field.
“You see what’s happening with the environment,” Allaire said. “When the facts change, I got to change my mind about what we’re doing.”
Community bands together
John Allaire, left, purchased 311 acres in Cameron Parish in 1998, and has watched the oil and gas industry's footprint spread to his property.
Credit: John Allaire
During an Earth Day rally in April, community members gathered in the urban center of Lake Charles to demand local oil and gas industries help deliver a safer, healthier future for all. In between live acts by artists performing south Louisiana’s quintessential zydeco musical style, speakers like James Hiatt, a Calcasieu Parish native with ties to Cameron Parish and a Healthy Gulf organizer, and RISE St. James organizer Sharon Lavigne, who’s fighting against LNG development in rural Plaquemines Parish near the city of New Orleans, asked the nearly 100 in attendance to imagine a day in which the skyline isn’t dotted by oil and gas infrastructure.
Not long ago, it was hard to imagine an Earth Day rally in southwest Louisiana at all. For decades, the area has been decorated with fossil fuel infrastructure. Sunsets on some days are highlighted by the chemicals in the air; at night, thousands of facilities’ lights dot the dark sky.
“It takes a lot of balls for people to start speaking up,” Shreyas Vasudevan, a campaign researcher with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, told EHN in the days after the rally. In a region with its history and economy intertwined with oil and gas production, “you can get a lot of social criticism – or ostracization, as well – even threats to your life.”
Many are involved in local, regional and national advocacy groups, including the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Healthy Gulf, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Turtle Island Restoration Network, the Center for Biological Diversity and the National Audubon Society.
“You see what’s happening with the environment,” Allaire said. “When the facts change, I got to change my mind about what we’re doing.” - John Allaire, environmental engineer and 30-year oil and gas industry veteran
But environmental organizers are fighting a multi-billion-dollar industry with federal and state winds at its back. And LNG’s federal support is coupled with existing state initiatives.
Under outgoing Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards — a term-limited Democrat — the state pledged a goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050. Natural gas, which the LNG industry markets as a cleaner-burning alternative, is cited as one of the state’s solutions. Louisiana is the only state that produces a majority of its carbon emissions through fossil fuels refining industries, like LNG, rather than energy production or transportation. Governor Edwards’ office did not return EHN’s request for comment.
This accommodating attitude towards oil and gas industries has resulted in a workforce that’s trained to work in LNG refining facilities across much of the rural Gulf region, said Steven Miles, a lawyer at Baker Botts LLP and a fellow at the Baker Institute’s Center on Energy Studies. Simultaneously, anti-industrialization pushback is lacking. It’s good news for industries like LNG.
“The bad news,” Miles added. “[LNG facilities] are all being jammed in the same areas.”
One rallying cry for opponents is local health. The Environmental Integrity Project found that LNG export terminals emit chemicals like carbon monoxide –potentially deadly– and sulfur dioxide, of which the American Lung Association says long-term exposure can lead to heart disease, cancer, and damage to internal or female reproductive organs.
An analysis of emissions monitoring reports by the advocacy group the Louisiana Bucket Brigade found that Venture Global’s existing Calcasieu Pass facility had more than 2,000 permit violations.That includes exceeding the permit’s authorized air emissions limit to release nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds 286 out of its first 343 days of operation.
The Marvel Crane, the first liquid natural gas carrier to transport natural gas from the Southwest Louisiana LNG facility, transits a channel in Hackberry, Louisiana, May 28, 2019.
Credit: Coast Guard News
Rather than amend its infrastructure to meet regulatory standards, Venture Global is asking the state to raise its facility’s air emissions permit limits to release an additional 833% of greenhouses gasses each year, according to the Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s January report. If approved, permitted emissions would rise to roughly 4.65 million tons, making the facility the state’s fifth-largest emitter), according to a 2021 statewide greenhouse data inventory compiled by Louisiana State University’s Center for Energy Studies.
“This is just one facility,” at a time when three more facilities have been proposed in the region and state, Vasudevan said. Venture Global’s operational LNG facility — also known as Calcasieu Pass — “is much smaller than the other facility they’ve proposed.”
In an area that experienced 18 feet of storm surge during Hurricane Laura in 2020 — and just weeks later, struck by Hurricane Delta — Venture Global is planning to build a second export terminal Known as “CP2,” it’s the largest of the roughly two dozen proposed Gulf LNG export terminals, and a key focal point for the region’s local organizing effort.
Residents “don’t really want LNG as much as they want Cameron [Parish] from 1990 back,” Hiatt told EHN of locals’ nostalgia for a community before storms like Rita in 2005 brought up to 15 feet of storm surge, only for Laura to repeat the damage in 2020. Throughout that time, the parish’s population dipped from roughly 10,000 to 5,000. “But the wolf knocking at the door is LNG. Folks in Cameron think that's going to bring back community, bring back the schools, bring back this time before we had all these storms — when Cameron was pretty prosperous.”
“Clearly,” for the oil and gas industry, “the idea is to transform what was once the center of commercial fishing in Louisiana to gas exports,” Cindy Robertson, an environmental activist in southwest Louisiana, told EHN.
Helping fishers’ impacted by LNG is about “actual survival of this unique culture,” Cooke said.
In a measure of organizers’ success, she pointed to a recent permit hearing for Venture Global’s CP2 proposal. Regionally, it’s the only project that’s received an environmental permit, but not its export permit, which remains under federal review. At the meeting, some spoke on the company’s behalf. As an organizer, it was a moment of clarity, Cooke explained. Venture Global officials “had obviously done a lot of coaching and organizing and getting people together in Cameron to speak out on their behalf,” Cooke said. “So, in a way, that was bad. But in another way, it shows that we really had an impact.”
“It also shows that we have a lot to do,” Cooke added.
Environmental organizers like Alyssa Portaro describe a sense of fortitude among activists — she and her husband to the region’s nearby town of Vinton near the Texas-Louisiana border. Since the families’ relocation to their farm, Portaro has worked with Cameron Parish fisher-folk.
“I’ve not witnessed ‘community’ anywhere like there is in Louisiana,” Portaro told EHN. But a New Jersey native, she understands the toll environmental pollution has on low-income communities. “This environment, it’s so at risk — and it’s currently getting sacrificed to big industries.”
“People don’t know what we’d do without oil and gas. It comes at a big price,” she added.
Southwest Louisiana’s Cameron Parish is one of the state’s most rural localities. Marine economies were the area’s economic drivers until natural disasters and LNG facilities began pushing locals out, commercial fishers claim.
Credit: Xander Peters for Environmental Health News
Residents “don’t really want LNG as much as they want Cameron [Parish] from 1990 back,” James Hiatt , a Healthy Gulf organizer, told EHN. "But the wolf knocking at the door is LNG."
Credit: Xander Peters for Environmental Health News
For the most part, Cameron Parish’s life and economy has historically taken place at sea. As new LNG facilities are operational or in planning locally, locals claim the community they once knew is nearly unrecognizable.
Credit: Xander Peters for Environmental Health News
A disappearing parish
The stakes are seemingly higher for a region like southwest Louisiana, which is the epicenter of climate change impacts.
In nearly a century, the state has lost roughly 2,000 square miles of land to coastal erosion. In part driving the state’s erosion crisis is the compounding impacts of Mississippi River infrastructure and oil and gas industry activity, such as dredging canals for shipping purposes, according to a March study published in the journal Nature Sustainability. Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said Cameron Parish could lose more land than other coastal parishes over the next 50 years. A recent Climate Central report says the parish will be underwater within that time frame.
On top of erosion and sea level rise impacts, in August, 2023, marshland across southwest Louisiana’s Cameron Parish burned. The fires were among at least 600 across the Bayou State this year. Statewide, roughly 60,000 acres burned — a more than six-fold increase of the state’s average acres burned per year in the past decade alone.
But while the blaze avoided coastal Louisiana communities like Cameron Parish, the fires represented a warning coming from a growing chorus of locals across the region — one that’s echoes by the local commercial fishing population, who claimed to have experienced unusually low yields during the same time, according to a statement from a local environmental group. At the site of the Cameron Parish fires are locations for two proposed LNG expansion projects.
"The idea is to transform what was once the center of commercial fishing in Louisiana to gas exports.” - Cindy Robertson, an environmental activist in southwest Louisiana
It was an unusual occurrence for an area that’s more often itself underwater this time of year due to a storm surge from powerful storms. For LNG expansion’s local opposition, it was a red flag.
As the Louisiana Bucket Brigade has noted prior, the confluence of climate change’s raising of sea levels and the construction of LNG export terminals — some are proposed at the size of nearly 700 football fields — are wiping away the marshland folks like Allaire watched wither. Among their fears is that the future facilities won’t be able to withstand the power of another storm like Laura and its storm surge, which wiped away entire communities in 2020.
Amidst these regional climate impacts, LNG infrastructure has shown potential to exacerbate the accumulation of greenhouse gasses that cause global warming. For the most part, LNG is made up of methane — a greenhouse gas that’s more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Among the 22 current LNG facility proposals, the advocacy group Sierra Club described a combined climate pollution output that would roughly equal to that of about 440 coal plants.
The climate impacts prompt some of the LNG industry’s uncertainty going forward. It isn’t clear if Asian countries, key importers of U.S. LNG, will “embrace these energy transition issues,” said David Dismuke, an energy consultant and the former executive director of Louisiana State University’s Center for Energy Studies. Likewise, European nations remain skeptical of embracing LNG as a future staple fuel source.
“They really don't want to have to pull the trigger,” Dismukes added, referring to Europe’s hesitation to commit more resources to exporting LNG from the American market. “They don't want to go down that road.”
While there will be a tapering down of natural gas supply, Miles explained, “we’re going to need natural gas for a long time,” as larger battery storage for renewables is still unavailable.
“I'm not one of these futurists that can tell you where we're going to be, but I just don't see everything being extreme,” Dismukes said. “I don't see what we've already built getting stranded and going away, either.”
For now, LNG seems here to stay. From 2012 to 2022,U.S. natural gas demand — the sum of both domestic consumption and gross exports — rose by a whopping 43%, reported the U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA. Meanwhile, in oil and gas hotbeds like Louisiana and Texas, natural gas demand grew by 116%.
Throughout 25 years, Allaire has witnessed southwest Louisiana’s land slowly fade, in part driven by the same industrial spread regionally. Near where the front door of his travel trailer sits underneath the aluminum awning, he points to a chenier ridge located near the end of the property. It’s disappearing, he said.
“See the sand washing over, in here?” Allaire says, as he points towards the stretches of his property. “This pond used to go down for a half mile. This is all that's left of it on this side.”
Some funding for this reporting was also provided by the Wake Forest University Environmental and Epistemic Justice Initiative.
Greenpeace's Chief Technology Officer, Priscilla Chomba-Kinywa, highlights the need for the tech industry to prioritize environmental sustainability.
- Chomba-Kinywa emphasizes the critical role of technology in addressing the climate crisis, with a stark reminder of the limited time left to make significant changes.
- She advocates for the development of green, ethical tech platforms and praises companies like Hyundai for their environmentally conscious decisions.
- The article underscores the importance of using data effectively, as demonstrated by Greenpeace's efforts to persuade tech giants to adopt renewable energy sources.
"We’re talking about values, ethics, and putting guardrails in place—but we can’t do that without talking about the environment."
— Priscilla Chomba-Kinywa, CTO of Greenpeace
Why this matters:
This article connects technology with environmental sustainability, highlighting the responsibility of tech companies and consumers in shaping a sustainable future, resonating with the current global emphasis on environmental issues.
The Inflation Reduction Act introduces a significant methane fee to curb emissions from the oil and gas industry.
- The IRA mandates a $900 fee per metric ton for methane emissions exceeding a set threshold from 2024.
- This fee could result in substantial financial liabilities for major oil and gas companies.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is updating rules for methane emission reporting, aiming for more accurate and accountable measures.
"They're going to be beefing that process up in light of the methane fee, since now there's a financial incentive to misreport their emissions or omit certain things."
— Edwin LaMair, attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund
Why this matters:
The methane fee is a step toward holding the oil and gas industry accountable for its environmental impact. This approach reflects a growing emphasis on using economic incentives to drive significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Federal authorities have denied permits for hydroelectric projects on Navajo land, marking a significant step in recognizing tribal sovereignty in energy projects.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's new policy requires tribal consent for energy projects on tribal lands, leading to the denial of permits for hydroelectric projects on Navajo Nation territory.
- The Navajo Nation, along with environmental groups, opposed these projects due to concerns about water usage and impacts on cultural sites and endangered species.
- This decision reflects a growing awareness of the environmental and cultural impacts of hydropower, as well as the importance of tribal consultation in energy development.
“Water scarcity is a simple fact of our region … their failure to see that caused them to run headlong into the problem of aridity.”
— Taylor McKinnon, the Southwest director for the Center for Biological Diversity
Why this matters:
This development speaks to inclusive decision-making processes that respect both the environment and the rights of Indigenous communities.
Supporters fear the possibility of a second Trump presidency and the environmental regulatory rollbacks that would surely follow.
- The Biden administration is rushing to complete significant environmental rules to safeguard against potential reversals by a future administration.
- These rules include measures on climate pollution from power plants, protections for endangered species, and ensuring federal employees are not subject to politically motivated dismissals.
- The urgency is heightened by memories of the Trump administration using the Congressional Review Act to undo Obama-era regulations.
“They know this stuff cold. There are no impediments. It’s pedal to the metal time.”
- James Goodwin, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform
Why this matters:
This push to solidify environmental gains speaks to the fragile nature of environmental protections and the messy confluence of policy and governance. The outcome of these efforts influences national health outcomes, environmental safety and policy stability in the face of political change.
The escalating global food crisis, fueled by climate change, extreme weather, and conflicts, is pushing millions into hunger and malnutrition, signaling an unprecedented challenge in global food security.
- The U.N. World Food Program describes the current situation as a hunger crisis of unprecedented proportions, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate shocks, and conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine war.
- More than 3.1 billion people globally cannot afford a healthy diet, with the most alarming increases in hunger levels seen in the Caribbean, Western Asia and Africa.
- Extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts, and floods, are significantly impacting food production, with 2023 being the hottest year on record and the return of El Niño causing further disruptions.
"If we do not redouble and better target our efforts, our goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030 will remain out of reach."
— U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization
Why this matters:
This crisis underscores the need for targeted actions to address food insecurity, a challenge that intertwines with broader issues of climate change and global stability.
New analysis illustrates the climate, environmental, and human rights tolls linked to petrochemical production surrounding the Houston Ship Channel region.
Entre promesas económicas y preocupaciones ambientales, Estados Unidos lidera la producción y exportación de gas natural licuado.
Knowing how many people die or get sick from heat-related causes is essential for the policy arguments to equitably adapt to and mitigate climate change.