Chesapeake Climate Action Network: National Environmental Leaders Tell President Obama: Pell-Mell Rush to Export Gas Would Significantly Undercut U.S. Climate Action

For Immediate Release
March 18, 2014

Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022,
Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838,

Leaders of 16 national and regional groups call on the president to reverse course-and order a full review of the ‘Cove Point’ LNG export project in Maryland as a first step in the right direction

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Leaders of 16 national and regional climate advocacy groups sent a letter to President Obama today, calling on him to revisit proposals to radically expand U.S. exports of fracked and liquefied natural gas, which would significantly undermine his administration’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis. As a first step in the right direction, the letter urges the president to ensure a comprehensive federal environmental impact review for one of the most controversial liquefied natural gas export proposals currently before his administration-the Cove Point facility proposed by Dominion Resources just outside of Washington, D.C. on the Chesapeake Bay.

“President Obama, exporting LNG is simply a bad idea in almost every way. We again implore you to shift course on this disastrous push to frack, liquefy, and export this climate-wrecking fossil fuel,” the letter states.

“As a first step, tell [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] to drop its shameful and unacceptably weak permitting process for Cove Point in Maryland. Demand a full Environmental Impact Statement for this massive $3.8 billion project just a short drive from your house. An EIS will put more facts on the table and, we believe, will persuade you and the nation that a pell-mell rush to export gas is a pell-mell rush to global climate ruin,” the letter continues.

Groups signing the letter included, CREDO, Food & Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Earthworks, all sponsors of a weekend rally in California that was the largest anti-fracking protest in the state’s history, as well as the Sierra Club, the Energy Action Coalition and Earthjustice. National leaders Bill McKibben and Michael Brune joined a tele-press conference to release the letter.

“From Maryland to California, Americans are taking to the streets to say that climate leaders don’t frack,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder and president of

Emerging and credible analyses show that significant expansion of fracking and gas export infrastructure could cripple global efforts to solve climate change, which Secretary of State John Kerry recently called perhaps the “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” In fact, the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of the LNG export process-including drilling, piping, compressing, liquefying, shipping, re-gasifying, and burning-likely make it as harmful to the climate, or worse than, burning coal overseas. Analysis shows the $3.8 billion Cove Point plan could alone trigger more lifecycle climate change pollution than all seven of Maryland’s existing coal-fired power plants combined.

“President Obama has told us many times that failure to address the climate crisis amounts to the betrayal of our children and future generations, so it would be contradictory for the president to allow the LNG export facility at Cove Point to start operating without a full environmental review,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. “We can’t cut climate pollution and simultaneously expand the use of dirty fossil fuels, and we must fully understand the consequences of liquefying fracked natural gas for export. Building new fossil fuel infrastructure keeps America tied to the past. We should be exporting clean energy innovation, not the dirty fuels of the 19th century.”

The Cove Point project has faced particularly fierce regional and local resistance in recent months, including a record-large environmental protest in downtown Baltimore in late February and a string of three civil disobedience protests over the past three weeks resulting in arrests across Maryland.

Cove Point would be the first export facility to open fracking operations across the Marcellus Shale to Asian export markets. It would also be built in an area in southern Maryland that is by far the most densely populated human community in the vicinity of any proposed gas export facility in the nation. Despite calls from Maryland health, environmental and community leaders as well as Maryland’s attorney general for a full Environmental Impact Statement on Cove Point, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced last week that it would release a more limited and less participatory Environmental Assessment on May 15 of this year.

“Marylanders would certainly have President Obama’s back if he steps in to demand a full federal environmental review of Cove Point-81 percent of state voters expressed support for this more protective type of review in recent polling,” said Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Ultimately, President Obama can and should abandon support for more fracking infrastructure and concentrate on locking in a legacy of new wind turbines and solar panels criss-crossing Maryland and the country-a plan that would create far more jobs than fracking and exporting climate-harming gas.”

View a PDF of the full text and signers of the letter to President Obama:

View the news release online at:

For more information:

FULL TEXT AND SIGNERS OF THE LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Å° Center for Biological Diversity Å° Center for Health, Environment and Justice Å° Chesapeake Climate Action Network Å° CREDO Å° Earth Day Network Å° Earthjustice Å° Earthworks Å° Energy Action Coalition Å° Environmental Action Å° Environment America Å° Food and Water Watch Å° Friends of the Earth Å° Green America Å° Sierra Club Å° Waterkeeper Alliance

March 18, 2014

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President,

We write as Americans who are grateful that you have taken steps to elevate the urgency of the climate crisis over the past year. We agree with you that, as you said in your June 25th climate action speech at Georgetown University last year, “the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.”

However, we are disturbed by your administration’s support for hydraulic fracturing and, particularly, your plan to build liquefied natural gas export terminals along U.S. coastlines that would ship large amounts of fracked gas around the world. We call on you to reverse course on this plan and commit instead to keeping most of our nation’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground, in line with the recommendations of most of the world’s leading climate scientists.And as a good-faith test case in this direction, we ask you to hold your Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accountable to completing a full Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed “Cove Point” LNG export facility, located just 65 miles from your home on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Lusby, Maryland.

Cove Point is emblematic of the irrational and fast-track strategy of the gas industry to export U.S. fracked gas and then ask questions later. The truth is that Cove Point, like other proposed LNG export terminals, will raise U.S. gas prices – harming virtually all Americans – while becoming a historic catalyst for more fracking across the mid-Atlantic and triggering a huge new pulse of climate pollution. Yet despite all this, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – part of your federal government – does not intend to even conduct a full and customary Environmental Impact Statement on the $3.8 billion project. Please, Mr. President, demand that FERC conduct an EIS. Given a full and fair accounting of the facts, we believe the clear economic and climate reality will become clear to you and the nation: Cove Point and the general push for LNG exports is NOT in America’s best interest or the world’s.

The life cycle of exported fracked gas, from drilling to piping to “liquefaction” to shipping overseas and eventual burning, results in huge levels of carbon emissions and widespread leakage of methane, a greenhouse gas much more powerful than CO2. Emerging and credible analyses now show that exported U.S. fracked gas is as harmful to the atmosphere as the combustion of coal overseas – if not worse. We believe that the implementation of a massive LNG export plan would lock in place infrastructure and economic dynamics that will make it almost impossible for the world to avoid catastrophic climate change.

In a report published in 2011 by the International Energy Administration, experts referred to plans for a major expansion of natural gas production and usage worldwide: “This puts emissions on a long-term trajectory consistent with stabilising the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at around 650 ppm, suggesting a long-term temperature rise of over 3.5°C.” (Are We Entering a Golden Age of Gas?, June 6, 2011)

Given that the world’s nations have agreed that we need to limit temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius to have a decent chance of making a successful transition to a low-carbon economy, we call upon you to immediately change course when it comes to LNG export terminals.

Such a course would be consistent with the public statements made by your Secretary of State John Kerry in recent weeks. In Jakarta, Indonesia on February 16 he stated that: “Climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction. … Industrialized countries have to play a leading role in reducing emissions.” And just a few days ago, in a personal message to State Department personnel, he wrote, “The scientific facts are coming back to us in a stronger fashion and with greater urgency than ever before. This challenge demands elevated urgency and attention from all of us.”

President Obama, exporting LNG is simply a bad idea in almost every way. We again implore you to shift course on this disastrous push to frack, liquefy, and export this climate-wrecking fossil fuel. As a first step, tell FERC to drop its shameful and unacceptably weak permitting process for Cove Point in Maryland. Demand a full Environmental Impact Statement for this massive $3.8 billion project just a short drive from your house. An EIS will put more facts on the table and, we believe, will persuade you and the nation that a pell-mell rush to export gas is a pell-mell rush to global climate ruin.

Instead of a gas rush, we ask you to double down on your ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency and expand wind and solar power nationwide. Let that be your legacy, not a reckless dash to gas that will harm all future generations.

We need your leadership, President Obama.


Bill McKibben
Co-founder and President

William Snape
Senior Counsel
Center for Biological Diversity

Lois Marie Gibbs
Executive Director
Center for Health, Environment and Justice

Mike Tidwell
Executive Director
Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Becky Bond
Political Director

Kathleen Rogers
Earth Day Network

Deborah Goldberg
Managing Attorney

Jennifer Krill
Executive Director

Maura Cowley
Energy Action Coalition

Jesse Bacon
Field Organizer
Environmental Action

Margie Alt
Executive Director
Environment America

Wenonah Hauter
Executive Director
Food and Water Watch

Erich Pica
Friends of the Earth

Fran Teplitz
Policy Director
Green America

Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club

Mark Yaggi
Executive Director
Waterkeeper Alliance

Mike Tidwell
Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Special thanks to Richard Charter

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