NRDC Report: U.S. LNG Exports Undermine Climate and Environmental Goals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With U.S. development and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) skyrocketing, this dirty fuel source is not the energy panacea the fossil fuel industry and its allies claim it is, according to Risky Business: Surging U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas Exports Jeopardize Global Decarbonization Goals, a new report by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). 

“As the gas industry touts LNG as a cure-all for global energy problems, we should look beyond the hype and at the reality of the crumbling gas bridge,” said Shruti Shukla, the report’s co-author and international energy expert at NRDC. “Our report clearly shows that expansion of U.S. LNG infrastructure is unsustainable and deeply harmful for energy security, the climate, people, and communities.”

The report asserts that further growth of LNG infrastructure and exports will not help reduce climate emissions as the rest of the world shifts away from expensive fossil fuels, wean Europe off dangerous Russian gas, or promote U.S. LNG buyers’ long-term energy security. Rather, the report makes clear that LNG will threaten people around the world by jeopardizing air and water quality, delay the needed global shift to renewable energy and impede efforts to address the climate crisis.

“Instead of leading the world in LNG exports,” Shukla added, “the United States should curb expansion of this dirty energy sector and phase out support for overseas fossil gas investments that are impeding decarbonization goals worldwide. We should be transitioning to clean energy sources. Period.”

Risky Business notes several problems with unchecked LNG investments in the United States:

·       The United States is on track to become the world’s largest exporter of LNG by the end of 2022, which is not in line with the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Not only does this export result in adding substantial amounts of climate-changing pollution to the atmosphere, but it disincentivizes renewable energy development in the importing countries.

·       Unchecked, production, transportation, and liquefaction of fossil gas in the U.S. could generate annual pollution emissions by 2030 equal to that of up to 45 million gasoline-powered cars, the report says.

·       The Biden administration’s support for LNG development and export contradicts its international climate commitments to cut emissions 50-52 percent by 2030. The U.S. has made that pledge under the Paris Agreement help limit the Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), needed to avoid the worst damages from climate change.

“The continued reliance on U.S. LNG exports restrains the world's collective progress toward short term energy security goals and climate mitigation targets in the medium and long term," said Ade Samuel, report co-author and LNG analyst at NRDC. “Both sides of the Atlantic must exercise political will to live up to and deliver on the commitments made at the Glasgow and Paris climate summits. That means, we must redouble our investments in safe, clean, and secure renewable energy.”

The report also makes these key points:

·       Investing in overseas LNG assets means financing infrastructure with a limited life span. Ending U.S. support for LNG expansion will help avoid creating future costly stranded assets in other countries.

·       LNG imports do not guarantee energy security for allies. Further dependence on imported LNG only prolongs our allies’ exposure to global market volatility and price shocks and fosters long-term import dependence.

·       LNG price volatility puts consumers and economies at risk. With the volatility of LNG markets at present, relying on U.S. LNG imports will expose importing countries (particularly those in the global south) to greater energy supply insecurity and associated economic risks from LNG supply shocks and disruptions.

·       An energy transition led by renewable energy will help limit the role of risky LNG. The ongoing transition to renewable sources of energy like wind and solar could help meet the energy needs of importing countries and avoid their costly investments in polluting fossil gas infrastructure that will make it impossible for them to stay on track to meeting the 1.5 °C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) global warming goal.

A blog on the report by Shukla and Samuel is here:

NRDC’s Risky Business LNG report is here:

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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