For Immediate Release,
December 4, 2020
WASHINGTON— The Trump administration today finalized a rule making it easier to export superpolluting methane gas without environmental review. The Department of Energy rule moves to “categorically exclude” its authorizations of liquefied methane export and any associated ship transportation from review under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The rule upends crucial climate-protecting precedent. Historically, proposals to export liquefied methane that involved building a new or expanded facility, or making major operational changes at an existing facility, were required to undergo a full environmental review.
“Trump’s latest parting gift to fossil fuel corporations makes it easier for them to pollute our climate at home and abroad,” said Liz Jones, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “Even on his way out the door, Trump’s intent on sweeping away environmental protections in favor of corporate handouts.”
The Department of Energy has approved dozens of liquid methane export authorizations in the past decade, and more are under review now. While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversees terminal construction and operations for such exports, the Department of Energy authorizes them and has the responsibility to analyze the environmental consequences.
When this reckless rule was proposed, the Center and allies submitted comments highlighting the many ways it’s illegal. Liquefied methane exports cause significant environmental harms that demand scrutiny, including increased greenhouse gas pollution and more ship traffic that harms marine life.
Allowing the export of methane also feeds the fracking boom, which has devastated wildlife habitat and forced profound suffering and health harms on communities exposed to this dangerous, toxic industrial process.
“Instead of focusing on public health during a pandemic, Trump is instead rushing out another rule to promote fracking and make it easier and more dangerous to ship superpolluting methane gas abroad,” said Jones.