Policy on Coastal Liquefied Natural Gas Facilities

Approved by the Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors on February 6, 2010  

Whereas, the Surfrider Foundation advocates for the conservation of coastal and ocean resources and the use of renewable energy sources over fossil fuels;

Whereas, recent reports suggest that domestic supplies of natural gas are growing and there is nearly a century’s worth of production at current rates;

Whereas, energy interests are proposing and applying for licenses to build thirty new liquefied natural gas (LNG) port terminals in U.S. waters;

Whereas, all of the proposed LNG port terminals and 75% of the approved LNG port terminals are designed for exporting U.S. sourced LNG;

Whereas, energy industry outlooks project that the U.S. will become the second largest LNG exporter in the world (after Australia); 

Whereas, new coastal LNG terminals require infrastructure development that creates upland environmental impacts that adversely affect coastal resources, including shoreline alteration, coastal erosion, and water quality impairment.

Whereas, the processing and shipment of LNG produces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are much greater than domestic natural gas;

Whereas, the process of turning natural gas into LNG is highly energy intensive, and in total, LNG is estimated to be the largest source of GHG emissions growth from the oil and gas industry by 2025;

Whereas, the drilling and extraction of natural gas results in large amounts of fugitive emissions of the world’s most potent GHG, methane, which has 84 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide in the short term;

Whereas, the Surfrider Foundation, through its Policy on Climate Change, has recognized climate change is a scientific reality that will include dangerous changes in the characteristics of the ocean including warmer waters, higher acidity, rising sea levels and increased storm severity that threaten coastal communities, beaches, and coastal and ocean ecosystems;

Whereas, Surfrider Foundation has resolved to support efforts to reduce carbon and other GHG emissions;

Whereas, the known and anticipated environmental impacts of LNG facility development and operation include marine life mortality associated with continuous water uptake; discharge of both cold and chlorinated water to marine environment; air quality degradation, including carbon dioxide emissions; high energy consumption rate; introduction of invasive species, including those discharged in ballast water; benthic habitat disturbed in mooring and transmission pipeline installations; and light pollution;

Whereas, the unknown environmental impacts of coastal LNG facility development and operation present significant risks to the marine environment that are difficult, if not impossible, to adequately address through adaptive management protocols under existing regulatory authorities;

Whereas, the siting of LNG facilities and related infrastructure is an applicant-driven process that requires regulatory agencies to conduct environmental review and consider input from affected communities and the public.

This policy is general in nature; the Surfrider Foundation recognizes that every specific case must be evaluated in the context of the local setting.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors finds:

Coastal community members, the general public, local businesses, and recreational ocean users, including beach goers and surfers, are affected by the development of LNG facilities and associated infrastructure, and are key stakeholders in local, regional and national project proposals.

LNG facilities, due to their consumption of finite natural resources, generation of GHG emissions, and other harmful effects on the environment, are not a viable means of providing safe and sustainable energy. Given the availability of alternative renewable energy resources, LNG facilities are not consistent with successful overall strategies for addressing climate change.

Given the impacts to coastal and ocean ecosystems, air quality, including increased greenhouse gases, and coastal access, the Surfrider Foundation finds that siting LNG facilities in the coastal zone is not consistent with successful protection, conservation and access to coastal resources.  

More information and references can be found here.