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Sierra Club Urges ‘Timeout’ on Natural Gas Exports

The Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Clean Water Action, and other groups have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to put the brakes on liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports until the government conducts additional environmental and economic studies.

The Center for International Environmental Law, Earthworks, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters and The Wilderness Society also signed the letter, which comes on the heels of the public comment period to the Department of Energy, which commissioned NERA Consulting to conduct a study of the impacts natural gas exports would have on the US economy.

DOE is currently reviewing proposals for 16 export facilities. If all of these facilities were approved and developed, they would export a volume of gas equal to 45 percent of the natural gas currently produced in the US, the letter says.

Sierra Club and other environmental groups also filed technical comments on the NERA economic study, stating it is incomplete, flawed and favors the interests of fuel investors.

In the letter to the Obama, the groups say that natural gas exports will raise domestic energy prices while further exacerbating the climate crisis and leading to more hydraulic fracturing and drilling.

Before making any decisions on LNG exports, the groups want a full environmental impact statement, and say DOE should redo the NERA economic study.

The letter also urges the Obama Administration to work with DOE and the US Trade Representative on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement currently being negotiated with 10 Pacific Rim nations. Additional countries are considering joining the pact, including Japan, the world’s largest natural gas importer. According to the letter, the agreement in its current form would leave the Administration unable to condition or deny export licenses to international gas markets in TPP countries, even if those exports would harm the environment, public health or the US economy.

Last spring, the Sierra Club challenged Freeport LNG’s bid to export liquefied natural gas from a facility in Texas in a protest lodged with the DOE.

In October 2012, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the state of California on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, Environmental Working Group and the Sierra Club in an effort to stop fracking.

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