April 14, 2022

Collin Rees, Oil Change International, collin@priceofoil.org
Peter Hart, Food & Water Watch, phart@fwwatch.org

United States, European Green Groups Urge Leaders to Reject Fossil Fuel Expansion Schemes

Expanding dirty energy to counter Russian invasion will doom international climate action

WASHINGTON, DC and BRUSSELS — Hundreds of groups in the United States and across Europe sent a letter to United States President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urging them avoid building new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The groups expressed their concerns that the March 25th U.S./EU Joint Energy Security announcement could encourage the construction of new fracked gas infrastructure, including export facilities and pipelines, and that the drive to replace Russian gas will increase fracking in the United States.

As the letter states, “we urge you to direct the Energy Security Task Force to develop a plan that ensures no new financing, exploration licenses, or permits for coal, oil or gas extraction, expansion of exports, imports and infrastructure, and to develop a plan to transition the European Union and United States off all fossil fuels by 2035.”

While fossil gas companies are pushing to expand the buildout of export terminals, the groups argue in their letter that “redirecting existing LNG exports, combined with energy efficiency measures and an all-out mobilization to renewable energy, could immediately address Europe’s current reliance on Russian gas.”

Further, the letter points out that long term fossil fuel investments are contrary to the recommendations laid out in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report: “Any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the United States and Europe will rob us of our last chance to avert climate chaos, and continue the decades of harm done to frontline communities living near fracking wells and LNG infrastructure, including pipelines and export and import terminals.”

The letter comes just days after nearly 300 scientists wrote to President Biden urging him to stop plans to increase fossil fuel production or to build new dirty energy infrastructure.

“New expansion of LNG and fossil gas infrastructure would be a death sentence for the climate. Furthering fossil fuel dependence would be the worst possible choice for Biden and von der Leyen in a critical moment,” said Collin Rees, U.S. Program Manager at Oil Change International. “The tragic war in Ukraine and crushing energy crisis are the direct result of our fossil-fueled system rewarding big polluters at the expense of working people. We need to double down on clean, renewable energy to stop the boom-bust cycle of oil and gas, address the climate crisis, and build a more peaceful world.”

“The answer to a crisis brought on by dirty, expensive fossil fuels cannot be to do more of the same and expect a different result,” said Jim Walsh, Policy Director at Food & Water Watch. “It would be a climate disaster to double down on fossil fuels when we have all the available technologies to jumpstart a rapid shift towards clean renewable energy. We urge all world leaders to pursue policies that end the fossil fuel era once and for all.”

“The energy dilemma facing Europe is similar to that facing the Delaware River Watershed in our struggle to stop the production and export of Liquefied Natural Gas,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director at Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “The solutions to both lie in switching from the deadly dependence on fossil fuels to developing truly clean, renewable energy sources that benefit the consumer and allow for self-sufficiency and independent economic control. We are united with our allies to end the tyranny of fossil fuels, the only choice to avert climate catastrophe and more suffering.”

“President Biden’s plans to increase gas exports are in direct contradiction to his commitment as the environmental president, to environmental justice and climate action,” said John Beard, founder of the Port Arthur Community Action Network. “Fast-tracking new gas infrastructure would only add insult to injury for communities in the Gulf coast that have been overburdened with the toxic impacts of the fossil fuel industry for generations; over-exposed to the frequent storms and disasters driven by climate change. I invite him to come to Port Arthur, and other impacted cities, and see for himself. Instead of doubling down with more dirty energy, he should be doing everything he can to invest in a just recovery and an equitable transition from fossil fuels.”

“This plan would have disastrous implications for communities in Texas and across the Gulf coast. Our region is already overburdened with decades of pollution from oil and gas operations, and dozens of new projects are proposed,” said Melanie Oldham at Citizens for Clean Air & Water in Brazoria County, Texas, on the U.S. Gulf Coast. “President Biden’s plans to increase gas exports would require more fracking and would lock us into decades of pollution and would exacerbate the climate crisis. We need clean energy policies that protect our communities, keep our air and water clean, and provide real support for working families.”  

“An exclusively economic and short-term view cannot prevail in the face of the magnitude of the challenges we face,” said Marina Gros, Gas Campaigner at Ecologistas en Acción in Spain. “Most fossil fuels must remain in the ground. However, the EU is facing a false dilemma of increasing dependence on fracking gas from the US, which causes high impacts on communities and the climate. It is a false dilemma, because with an adequate and rapid energy transition, based on reducing energy demand and changing the production and consumption system, external dependencies could be reduced and the development of new and expensive gas infrastructures would not be needed.”

Full Letter: https://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2022/04/US_EU-gas-plan-April-2022-group-letter.pdf