14 climate and social justice activists arrested after speaking out against Senate Energy Commitee’s dirty LNG hearing

(Washington, DC) – Over a dozen climate activists were arrested at the Capitol today after disrupting the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s hearing examining the Biden administration’s pause on approvals for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals. The pause, which is widely celebrated by climate and movement leaders alike, would allow the Department of Energy (DOE) to update the public interest determination process instead of rubber stamping approvals without properly considering projects’ impacts on the climate and communities. 

Wearing t-shirts reading “LNG Kills,” the activists stood up and voiced deep concern regarding Congress’ willingness to support expanding LNG infrastructure. Activists were handcuffed and escorted out by Capitol police, amongst cheers from the crowd.

Senator Joe Manchin, one of the top recipients of oil and gas industry campaign contributions this cycle, and Senator John Barrasso, who has taken at least $1.5 million in oil and gas cash over his career, attacked this commonsense policy that would allow for the DOE to listen to frontline communities and energy, national security and economic experts in order to reassess the impacts of new LNG export authorizations on public health, the economy, and the climate. 

Pausing new LNG export facilities is a widely popular decision, with voters supporting limits on natural gas exports by a 2-to-1 margin, including 59% of Independents and 62% of young voters aged 18-29. Videos opposing the projects have generated more than 25 million views across social media platforms, driving more than 450,000 signatures on petitions urging DOE to pause approvals. 

In December, more than 170 scientists wrote a letter urging President Biden to stop what they called the “staggering” buildout of export facilities, and in January, 60 members of the European Parliament sent an open letter to President Biden welcoming reports of an LNG export pause. 

Statements: 

Bob Muehlenkamp, Third Act activist arrested for interrupting today’s hearing, said,
“I’m almost 80 years old and I have six grandchildren — Maddie, Max, Leo, Dylan, Rory, and Philly. They are in this room with us and will inherit the Earth. But LNG is killing this Earth. That is the fossil fuel legacy. We want a different legacy. Listen to the science, keep fossil fuels in the ground. That is the legacy we want for the Earth and our grandchildren.”

Basav Sen, Climate Policy Director at Institute for Policy Studies, said,
“We need to start phasing out all fossil fuel production and exports, and the pause on LNG export licenses and the review of public interest criteria for the export licenses are bare minimum first steps in this direction. Fossil fuel industry-backed politicians are being utterly disingenuous by holding sham hearings on how this small positive step by the Biden administration is allegedly harmful for people and the economy.”

Jamie Minden, Global Organizing Director at Zero Hour, said,
“A week ago today I was here at the Capitol, crying with a grandmother from Port Arthur, Texas as she told me about the funerals she has to attend almost every weekend because of the LNG plants in her community.

Working class Americans are dying because of the toxic effects of these LNG projects but all Senators were willing to discuss at today’s hearing were the frivolous concerns of ‘radical left TikTokers’ they fear are controlling the Biden administration’s decision making. Just these proposed LNG projects being considered today alone would raise global average temperatures to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels even if other nations reduce their emissions, dooming our planet to the most irreversible and destructive impacts of the climate crisis. 

This hearing just goes to show how out of touch arguments for LNG are. They showed us today that they value the profits of a handful of wealthy executives and shareholders over the lives of working class black and brown communities and quite literally the futures of billions of people.”

Collin Rees, United States Program Manager at Oil Change International, said:
“Yet again, Senator Manchin is misleading the public to serve the fossil fuel industry and line his own pockets. Today’s disruptions show people are sick and tired of Manchin’s lies. While Joe Manchin regurgitates industry talking points, people are breathing the toxic pollution from these facilities and climate-induced fires rage across the world.

President Biden’s pause on LNG export authorizations is an important first step to reign in fossil fuel expansion for our climate and frontline communities. The United States is already the world’s largest exporter of LNG, and any expansion risks wrecking our national and global climate goals. The pause doesn’t stop existing exports or projects under construction. Europe is transitioning rapidly away from gas to meet its climate goals and end dependence on expensive and volatile U.S. LNG. The idea that more LNG exports will ‘help our allies’ is misleading and shortsighted. Biden must continue to listen to science and his voters and stop these LNG projects for good.”

Karen Orenstein, Climate & Energy Justice Program Director at Friends of the Earth, said:
“Senator Manchin’s support for Big Oil cannot be met with respectful silence. We commend and support those who stood up today against attempts to mislead the public on the dangers of LNG. It’s clear that an expansion in LNG infrastructure will only line Big Oil’s pockets, harm US utility customers and create a surge in pollution that will devastate already-overburdened communities worldwide. It’s long past time for the DOE to fix its broken LNG approval process, and those who argue against reform are willingly putting corporate profit over the planet.

With the announced pause, President Biden took an important first step towards reckoning with the climate and justice costs of LNG. We can’t let Big Oil and fossil fuel baron Joe Manchin turn back the clock.”

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