After a long, hot summer helping people across the Gulf who lost their homes and livelihoods in the hurricanes and calling on elected officials in Washington to stop the proliferation of fossil fuel plants, we know what energy officials are here to do. So we invited the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners to visit the towns of Port Arthur, Texas, and Sulfur, Louisiana, to see their decisions. see how it affects our lives.
To my surprise, they agreed.
For too long, fossil fuel companies have burdened coastal communities of color like our own. Roixetta, for example, lost her home to Hurricanes Laura and Zeta, forcing her to raise six children for over a year in a FEMA trailer. Lake She is a community along Charles and she is never alone. Hundreds of families live in trailers hoping that their flood-ravaged homes will one day be repaired and habitable again.
John’s hometown of Port Arthur is no exception. In the last 15 years he has been hit by five major storms. Despite the endless promises of the fossil fuel industry to improve our quality of life, it never happened.
What is happening is a dramatic escalation of fossil fuel infrastructure. There appears to be plenty of corporate money to build 19 more gas export terminals along the Gulf Coast, but none to address the environmental impact caused by the fossil fuel industry.
These terminals will forever change coastlines by removing natural barriers such as sandbars, dramatically increasing greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming. In fact, three new terminals currently under construction — Golden Pass in Texas, Plaquemines LNG and Driftwood LNG in Louisiana — are licensed to release up to 22.6 million tons of greenhouse gases each year.
And despite the fact that our coastline is encroached on by more gas export terminals than anywhere else in the world, FERC Chairman Glick and Phillips have never toured these facilities along the Gulf Coast. I had never done it and had never met people on whom their lives depended. Decision.
Earlier this year, the commission announced a historic policy requiring governments to consider potential harm to Indigenous and people of color communities before approving new gas projects. In other words, this policy puts our community into the room where gas permitting decisions are made for the first time. and so on.
By approving a new gas policy that protects communities of color, our nation can make real progress in curbing the spread of greenhouse gases and coastal erosion.
Our “Low Light Tour” gives Chairman Glick and Commissioner Phillips a front-row look at the roots of the climate crisis, visiting petrochemical plants where crude oil is converted into chemicals, and the toxic waste they produce. I visited We drove through a gas export terminal that threw out an entire neighborhood. We walked through the previously pristine wetlands and showed them boxes of toxic sludge that we had extracted from the wetlands that morning.
We stopped at a community health center crowded with people suffering from health conditions caused by Hurricane Ida. For us, it was a day to consider the environmental cost of corporate greed.
You don’t have to do it this way. By approving a new gas policy that protects communities of color, our nation can make real progress in curbing the spread of greenhouse gases and coastal erosion. While this won’t stop the devastation caused by already approved gas export terminals, it could prevent future terminals and give our community a fighting chance.
Our hopes are now with members of Congress to confirm that Chairman Glick will continue to lead the Commission. Through your leadership, our community will finally be respected, represented and heard. On behalf of our communities and all those shouldering the burden of climate change, I urge Congress to hold a hearing on the nomination of Chairman Glick as soon as possible.
Life is in balance when we demand environmental justice. The time has passed for our elected leaders to listen to the brave people across the Gulf who are speaking out to save our families, homes and communities.
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