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- Local No-LNG-er
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This Week's Trend In Brief:
In September, when longtime climate activist Bill McKibben declared LNG “the next – and perhaps the ultimate – big battle with the fossil fuel industry,” it was clear signal to activists along the Gulf Coast that reinforcements were on the way.
Local Gulf Coast activists have becoming increasingly vocal in their objections to LNG facilities, particularly those geared towards export, with the portion of unique instances of activism in the region that focused on LNG more than doubling in the past year, based on analysis of more than ten thousand such instances tracked by Delve’s Gulf Energy Monitoring Service (GEMS).
In the same timeframe, these activists have become flush with financial support and legal and technical expertise thanks to Michael Bloomberg’s “Beyond Petrochemical” campaign, but that doesn’t mean their efforts only imperil chemical facilities.
The vocal objections to Venture Global’s proposed Calcasieu Pass (CP2) LNG export Louisiana regulators heard at a public hearing yesterday is just the latest example of this local and national activism seeking to delay and disrupt LNG facilities along the Gulf Coast even as they exert pressure on the Biden Administration to turn off the LNG spigot to our allies around the world.
Activists view these LNG export facilities as Biden’s “next big climate decision” and are acting accordingly. For public affairs professionals supporting the LNG value chain, it is essential to understand who these activists are, how they operate, and where they obtain their financial and technical resources. That understanding forms the basis for a robust monitoring program (such as GEMS) that ensures public affairs professionals can anticipate how that activism may impact their operations and interests.
Gulf Coast activists yesterday flooded a Louisiana Department of Natural Resources public hearing to voice their opposition to Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass (CP2) LNG export terminal, which 350.org founder Bill McKibben deemed the Biden Administration’s “next big climate decision.” According to McKibben, the project is “the next – and perhaps the ultimate – big battle with the fossil fuel industry” that reminds him of the “Keystone XL saga, but with perhaps even more at stake.” Echoing climate activists on the Gulf Coast, McKibben claims the project comes at a time when the world cannot afford to build new oil and gas projects even as the Biden Administration has signaled overall support for LNG exports. McKibben is one of the latest and most high-profile climate activists to oppose CP2, who are using the fight as a lever to obstruct all new LNG facilities proposed in the Gulf region and beyond.
Delve’s Gulf Energy Monitoring Service (GEMS) has tracked more than 10,000 unique instances of activism on the Gulf Coast since the beginning of 2022, and the portion of those instances that focused on LNG has increased from at least 7.2% to more than 14.5%. Michael Bloomberg’s $85 million “Beyond Petrochemicals” campaign to help local activist groups block the construction of facilities on the Gulf Coast has provided unprecedented funding for these fights, and that includes targeting LNG. Bloomberg’s resources have professionalized the operations of local activist groups who have leveraged Bloomberg’s capital to fund grant programs and litigation against various petrochemical projects in the state. Bloomberg himself took credit for helping activists secure “a string of victories” against five petrochemical projects alongside his campaign since the campaign went live. Now these same activist groups are targeting CP2 in an attempt to block further LNG development.
Gulf Coast activist groups targeting CP2 have spent years building the infrastructure to fight industry in the region and now have support from major funders and national activist groups who hope to block not just CP2 but all LNG expansion nationwide. As detailed in our latest GEMS risk snapshot, Beyond Petrochemicals One Year Later, Bloomberg and his “Beyond Petrochemicals” campaign are just part of the billions in dark money flowing into the region, with at least 12 foundations providing significant support to local groups. These foundations have also spent decades and millions of dollars bolstering the capabilities of national environmental groups, who have followed McKibben’s lead and set their sights on CP2. The Sierra Club, for example, has marshalled supporters to pressure state regulators and even led local activist groups in filing a lawsuit to block construction of the facility. In total, McKibben, the Sierra Club, and other groups like the League of Conservation Voters have vowed to fight more than two dozen new LNG projects currently under consideration in the Gulf region. The Sierra Club also recently joined other national and local activist groups in condemning FERC’s continued support for several Texas LNG projects.
While LNG projects are currently drawing these group’s ire, their fight against energy infrastructure ironically targets many of the climate solutions that alongside natural gas can reduce carbon emissions. The Biden Administration recently announced seven regional hydrogen hubs that will receive $7 billion in grants from the Inflation Reduction Act, and, as we noted last week, the announcement was immediately criticized as “false solutions” that are “carbon schemes from corporate polluters.” Activist groups have also geared up to fight carbon capture projects.
To stop activists from delaying or disrupting LNG projects that advance America’s national security and climate goals, public affairs professionals must fully understand who these groups are, how they operate, and what action they will take next. At Delve, we ensure public affairs professionals operate with an information advantage, knowing which stakeholders they can engage productively and which opponents they will have to overcome to get projects approved and keep them operating. Leveraging our proven playbook, public affairs professionals supporting the LNG value chain can understand who these activists are, how they operate, and where they get their funding and technical expertise. That forms the basis for a robust monitoring program (like Delve’s GEMS) to anticipate how that activism may impact their operations and interests. If you would like to learn more about GEMS, please reach out.
Trends in Energy is your weekly look at key trends affecting the energy industry, brought to you by the competitive intelligence experts at Delve. As the political and regulatory landscape continues to shift, reach out to learn how our insights can help you navigate these challenges.