'Prove It': Leaders Challenge Obama on Natural Gas Claims

A coalition of environmental leaders sent a letter to President Obama on Tuesday calling on him to “reverse course” on his pursuit of liquified natural gas (LNG) exports and, in the interest of climate urgency, keep all fossil fuels “in the ground.”

“We are disturbed by your administration’s support for hydraulic fracturing,” the group writes, “particularly, your plan to build liquefied natural gas export terminals along U.S. coastlines that would ship large amounts of fracked gas around the world.”

Though applauding Obama’s efforts to “elevate” the climate crisis, the letter argues that the expansion of U.S. exports of fracked and liquified natural gas would “significantly undermine” these promises.

During a press call on Tuesday, 350.org founder Bill McKibben—who co-authored the letter—questioned the president’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis, saying, “We’ll find out how sincere he is.”

“He will be far more sincere the more people turn out to cause trouble and point out what a poor idea this is,” McKibben added, referring to the expansion of LNG exports. Along with McKibben, the letter was signed by 15 other leaders representing both national and regional environmental groups including CREDO, Food & Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Earthworks, the Sierra Club, the Energy Action Coalition and Earthjustice.

The letter calls specifically for the White House to perform a comprehensive federal environmental impact review for the proposed conversion of the Dominion Cove Point LNG import terminal on the Chesapeake Bay into an export facility—one of the most controversial LNG export proposals currently before the administration.

“The gas industry and the president and champions of export say over and over again that [LNG] is good for the environment,” said Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which has helped lead the charge against the Cove Point project. “We’re simply asking them to prove it using credible data—not just political rhetoric and slogans borrowed by the gas industry.”