In the last 30 days, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has rubber-stamped three major projects in the Gulf South: the Magnolia LNG export facility in Louisiana, the TransPecos natural gas pipeline through Big Bend National Park, and the Lake Charles LNG export expansion project. The future impacts of these facilities is immeasurable; the Gulf South is already damaged from years of exploitation by the fossil fuel industry, and it is now set to feel some of the worst impacts of climate change, including rising seas and more violent storms.
Our home, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, is the site of three proposed LNG export terminals pending FERC approval. These LNG companies have set their sights on greenfield areas that are part of the largest swath of unindustrialized coastline in the state. The lands are home to 17 endangered species, and their pristine state contributes to a flourishing local economy dependent on beach and ecotourism. People travel here from all over the country to relax on the beach and to explore our coastal wildlands.
The Rio Grande Valley region has over 1.3 million people of whom 90% are Latino. It also has the two poorest metropolitan areas in the country. About 34% of the population is below the poverty line and 2 out of 5 children dependent on welfare programs that the State of Texas is aggressively trying to cut. These LNG companies are touting the few hundred highly specialized jobs their dangerous business can provide as a means of curing the economic disparity. In reality, LNG will bring many threats to the RGV: lights, flarestacks, and industrial pollution that could depress the tourism economy, massive quantities of hazardous materials handled within 2 miles of populated areas, supersized natural gas pipelines for which a rupture would mean a catastrophe, and exposure to cancer-causing and lung damaging air pollutants. In short, the LNG industrial complex will transform our region into a sacrifice zone.
No one deserves to live in a sacrifice zone. From my backyard to your backyard, we don’t want extreme energy extraction anywhere, and we want FERC, the regulatory agency that is aiding and abetting its spread, to be reformed and made accountable to the people of the United States rather than to the corporations it pretends to regulate. We demand a local economy, respect for cultural identity, and clean renewable energy power and jobs. By approving these many toxic industrial projects, FERC is standing in the way of progress. The community members of the Save the Rio Grande Valley from Liquefied Natural Gas group stand with the #RubberStampRebellion.
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