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Liquefied Natural Cash: New Report Exposes the Fossil Fuel Industry’s Exploitation of Russia’s War in Ukraine, Calls on Biden Admin to Act

Methane export contracts skyrocket in 2022, locking in massive infrastructure expansion, decades of crippling emissions for climate and communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report released today by Friends of the Earth, BailoutWatch and Public Citizen outlines how U.S. fossil fuel companies use the war in Ukraine as a pretext to lock in profits and build out permanent infrastructure at the expense of frontline communities and the climate.

The report, Liquefied Natural Cash: How Methane Exports Reverse Climate Progress, Harm Consumers and Endanger Communities, shows that the industry exploited the Russian invasion of Ukraine to secure an explosion of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) contracts in 2022, guaranteeing decades of planet-destroying emissions. This stark increase in methane exports, much of which will be sent to Asia rather than Europe, comes as the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion approaches later this week.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Long-term LNG contracting has exploded since Russia invaded Ukraine: The industry finalized 45 long-term deals to send U.S.-produced LNG overseas in the past year, up from 14 in 2021 and three in 2020.
  • The industry and some federal officials tout the misleading claim that LNG exports support European security against Russia. But more than three-quarters of the exports under these contracts would go to the Asia-Pacific region or Big Oil companies and commodity trading firms that send fuel to where it can fetch the highest price.
  • LNG volumes set to be delivered under contracts signed over the past 12 months total 58.1 million metric tons per annum (mtpa) of gas — more than double the total volume contracted in the previous two years combined.
  • The LNG contracts signed over the past year represent 351 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year — equivalent to the yearly emissions of 94 coal plants or one-third of all U.S. households.

Despite the industry’s claims, LNG is nearly as dirty as coal when all of the emissions along the supply chain are considered, including the energy-intensive process of freezing methane into liquid and back into gas. The long-term contracts and expanded infrastructure would increase harm to the frontline communities already most impacted by the worsening climate crisis.

“There is no disaster that Big Oil won’t stoop to exploiting,” said Lukas Ross, a Program Manager at Friends of the Earth and an author of the report. “LNG exports are a ploy to prolong the era of fossil fuels. If Big Oil’s export agenda remains a blindspot for the Biden administration, then the President’s climate legacy is at risk.”

“Oil and gas executives have exploited the Russian invasion of Ukraine to further dependence on planet-destroying fossil fuels and force millions of American households to pay higher bills to heat their homes,” said Alan Zibel, an oil and gas researcher with Public Citizen and an author of the report. “With European countries showing that they can navigate their short-term energy needs by conserving fuel and promoting renewables, fossil fuel corporations are engaged in a massive and unnecessary buildout of US export infrastructure that will send fuel to Asia for decades and boost prices for American consumers. While oil and gas giants are reaping their largest-ever profits, marginalized communities in Texas and Louisiana are asked to shoulder continued risk from LNG export infrastructure buildout, all in the name of purported European energy security.”

The report calls on President Biden to overhaul the Department of Energy’s procedures for granting LNG export permits to better consider climate, consumer and community harm. It warns that State Department efforts under Amos Hochstein to help US producers secure long-term LNG contracts are flatly incompatible with global climate leadership.

The groups behind today’s report call on President Biden and the new Congress to stop Sen. Joe Manchin and Republicans from further expanding LNG exports under the guise of “permitting reform,” a fossil fuel industry euphemism for efforts to weaken bedrock environmental protections and expedite dirty energy projects.