Activists Decry “Climate-Wrecking” Biden Plan to Boost US Gas Exports to Europe

Global climate advocates on Friday panned as “misguided and dangerous” the Biden administration’s newly announced effort to ramp up U.S. gas shipments to European Union countries as they look to reduce their dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

The following are the guidelines new initiativeAccording to a White House factsheet, the U.S. will assist the E.U. secure an additional 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2022 “with expected increases going forward” — a set-up likely to benefit U.S. gas exporters.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that “the U.S. aims to ship 50 billion cubic meters of LNG to Europe annually through at least 2030… making up for about a third of the gas the E.U. receives from Russia.”

“The E.U. imported a record 22 billion cubic meters of LNG from the U.S. last year,” the Journal noted. New gas projects are expected to be online in 2025.

While the Biden administration vowed to “undertake efforts to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of all new LNG infrastructure and associated pipelines,” climate campaigners warned that the planned construction of new import facilities in Europe flies in the face of both U.S. and E.U. Promises to cut carbon emissions that cause global warming.

“Europe already has enough capacity to import the amount of gas the U.S. intends to supply, and building new import terminals would mean locking in fossil gas imports for years to come, long after the E.U. needs to quit this climate-wrecking fuel for good,” Murray Worthy, the gas campaign leader at Global Witness, said in a statement.

“Doubling down on gas is not the solution, whether it comes from Russia or the U.S.,” Worthy continued. “This announcement does not and must not be used to justify more fossil fuel projects in the U.S. New gas export terminals would take too long to build to help Europe now, would lead to huge climate-wrecking emissions and only help the fossil fuel industry.”

“Instead of lining the pockets of American fracking companies,” he added, “Europe should focus its energy investments on lasting solutions such as improving building insulation, heat pumps, and renewable energy sources. Despots and warmongers from all walks of the globe love the idea of more investment in fossil fuels. They recognize that this energy system is good for them. If Europe truly wants to get off Russian gas, the only real option it has is phasing out gas altogether.”

In response to Russia’s deadly assault on Ukraine — now in its second month with no end in sight — the E.U. The E.U. is aiming to reduce Russian gas imports by 2/3 this year and eliminate its dependence on Russian fossil fuels completely. 2027.

Europe had received roughly 40% of its natural gas supplies from Russia and 27% of its oil imports before the invasion by Ukraine. This arrangement was a major factor in the creation of the E.U. members — Germany in particular — to resist sanctions targeting the Russian fossil fuel industry.

“We aim to reduce this dependence on Russian fossil fuels and get rid of it,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said Friday.

But Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, warned in a statement Friday that simply switching gas suppliers “won’t solve Europe’s current crisis” — and will surely make the climate emergency worse.

“Pushing new toxic export facilities and decades more methane gas is a death sentence for those on the frontlines of the climate emergency,” Siegel said of the U.S. role in the new initiative. “President Biden must lead the world with a rapid buildout of renewable energy — not feed the fossil fuel beast that’s responsible for both petro-dictators and the climate crisis.”

“Approving more export terminals, pipelines, and fossil fuel production,” Siegel added, “only throws fuel on the fire of our burning world.”