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The case against liquefied methane gas exports


They’re bad for local communities, and they’re bad for the planet.

When the Biden administration announced a “pause” on the expansion of liquefied methane gas exports, also known as liquefied “natural” gas (LNG), climate and community activists let out a momentary sigh of relief. Many lived near production facilities that were polluting the air and water, not to mention worsening the climate crisis.

In 2023, the U.S. became the largest exporter of LNG for the first time ever—outpacing Australia and Qatar. But as wealthy oil and gas companies continue to deceptively market the fuel as “natural" or "clean," its harmful effects on local communities and our planet have called into serious question U.S. plans to sell more of it overseas.

“We will heed the calls of young people and frontline communities who are using their voices to demand action from those with the power to act,” said President Biden, when announcing the pause.

At Oxfam, we’ve been holding wealthy polluters accountable for years. So, we’re going to explain what LNG is, the risks it poses to the environment and public health, and what must be done about it to meet the world’s climate goals.

What is LNG?

Liquefied methane gas is a fossil fuel. The gas is a harmful air pollutant and potent greenhouse gas. Exporting it requires three basic steps: extracting methane gas from the earth by fracking, liquefying it through energy-intensive methods, and shipping it overseas for profit.

It’s a dirty process plagued by leaks and other problems that lead to unnecessary and harmful methane emissions. And that’s a problem if we want to avert catastrophic climate change. Here’s why:

  • Methane is already responsible for around one-third of the planet’s warming.

  • It has more than 80 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide in the short term.

  • Instead of driving a just energy transition away from fossil fuels that reduces inequality, investments in methane gas lock us into a fossil-fuel future that make the twin climate and inequality crises worse.

“The U.S. is the world’s largest producer and consumer of methane gas,” said Rachel Carle, Oxfam’s policy adviser on methane. “As long as that’s true, we will fall far short of meeting our climate goals.”

Why are plans to expand LNG exports dangerous?

The proposal on pause to expand LNG exports represents a clear and present danger to a just and feminist energy transition in the U.S.

Right now, there are around 14 new facilities proposed for construction along the Gulf of Mexico, including parts of Texas and Louisiana. These LNG “terminals” are more than just infrastructure: they symbolize a continued reliance on fossil fuels that threatens our environment and public health.

  • Estimates say these facilities would emit as much greenhouse gas as 532 coal plants.

  • Methane contributes to about 1 million premature deaths annually, as well as respiratory issues, cancer, and maternal and fetal health problems that often increase care responsibilities for affected families. Communities of color disproportionately live near these facilities and face higher health risks, raising significant racial justice concerns.

  • Extracting and transporting methane gas also causes environmental destruction, harming ecosystems and wildlife. Cameron Parish in Louisiana used to be the largest producer of seafood in the entire country before the worsening effects of climate change and the arrival of LNG facilities. Now only 16 commercial fishing vessels operate in the area, down from 250 decades ago.

For communities like these along the Gulf Coast, LNG export terminals spell trouble. Just ask Roishetta Sibley Ozane, an environmental organizer and founder of the Lake Charles-based Vessel Project, which has been fighting LNG export terminal projects in southwest Louisiana.

“We can no longer allow fossil fuel industries to operate without considering the health and safety of the people living in these areas,” Ozane said.

Frontline communities from Texas and Louisiana stand outside FERC to push against the spread of oil and liquified methane gas (LNG) facilities on Thursday, May 18th, 2023 in Washington. Photo: Joy Asico/AP Images for Movement Catalyst

What are real clean energy alternatives to LNG exports?

The way forward is clear: we need to decisively break away from fossil fuel infrastructure, including LNG terminals, and embrace clean energy alternatives like wind and solar.

By rallying community support and championing renewable energy investments, we can halt the momentum of LNG expansion. Together, we can lay the groundwork for an energy system that prioritizes the health and resilience of communities over the pocketbooks of billionaires and wealthy fossil fuel companies.

Instead of investing in polluting methane exports, we can fund a just energy transition by holding polluters accountable and ensuring they pay their fair share.


The expansion of liquefied methane gas exports could dramatically hurt local communities and endanger the creation of a more equal future for all.

Oxfam is calling on the Biden Administration to halt new LNG projects, ensuring that this “pause” takes into account the voices of frontline communities most affected by the development of these new facilities. We must also ensure that Congress does not take the power away from the Department of Energy to decide whether LNG export projects as proposed are truly in the “public interest.”

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