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LNG plants in the USA: The supposedly clean energy

Status: 06/15/2022 03:15 a.m

With the help of liquefied natural gas, Europe wants to become independent of Russian gas imports. The demand for LNG is increasing, the US wants to deliver. But the supposedly clean energy puts a strain on people and the environment.

Von Reinhard Baumgarten, ARD-Studio Washington

When John Allaire steps outside his house, he sees yellow and orange flames shooting up into the sky. The flaring fires emit black smoke all day long. Sometimes it’s really bad, he complains.

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Allaire lives near Venture Global LNG – a liquefied natural gas plant in southern Louisiana. The next facility is already being planned. Venture Global plans to invest more than $13 billion. Allaire believes it will be a monument to short-term planning and short-term money. “Let’s do it, do it, do it. And then move on to the next thing.”

Ten LNG plants on the Louisiana coast

In the coming years, a total of nine more liquid gas plants are to be built on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Business is booming like never before. The war in Ukraine and Europe’s move away from Russian oil and gas have fueled demand for LNG. And the US wants to deliver, says US President Joe Biden: “We have to make sure that families in Europe get through the winter.”

The air stinks, breathing is difficult

Roishetta Ozane finds the President’s charitable approach remarkable. “We have to make sure we don’t forget our own people who are doing badly to save others,” she says.

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Ozane lives near the Cameron LNG plant. In 2019, it was put into operation in the presence of then US President Donald Trump. With like-minded people, Ozane wants to prevent the construction of another plant in her area. The environmental impacts are enormous. The air often smells of sulphur, breathing is difficult on some days.

Ten million tons of greenhouse gases a year

John Wainwright, Cameron LNG’s environmental officer, says the plant has a number of mechanisms to control emissions. He points out that his company has reduced CO2 emissions by ten percent within a year.

But local resident Lydia Larce refuses to be appeased. The industry is doing great with the gas, “while we are suffering from your dirt and the climate,” she says. The four LNG plants on the American Gulf Coast blow ten million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year – as much as the Caribbean state of Costa Rica.

Biden: 50 billion cubic meters of LNG for Europe

Biden expects Europe to import up to 50 billion cubic meters of LNG annually from the US. “We are creating the infrastructure for a diversified, resilient and clean energy future,” he says.

Activists complain that a number of the Biden administration’s ambitious environmental and climate goals are in danger of falling by the wayside. Their arguments for more environmental protection and sustainable energy are only partially accepted by politicians and investors. Many jobs are created by the liquefied natural gas plants, and a lot of money flows into the coffers of the municipalities.

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Allaire opposes new LNG plants in Louisiana. “On the New Jersey coast or California coast, on the east coast or west coast, or on the Florida coast, they would never do that,” he says. But he doesn’t want to give up. Even if the prospects overlooking the sea are not exactly rosy. “Instead of the estuary with all the water and marshland, there will be concrete.”

LNG – The supposedly clean energy from the USA

Reinhard Baumgarten, SWR, 14.6.2022 9:43 p.m

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