Climate campaigners call for rethink on Government's proposed LNG import terminal

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Irish and US organizations release new letter detailing objections to Government’s proposal for a state-backed floating LNG import terminal and calling on Minister Ryan to codify key climate conditions 

A transatlantic set of organizations released a new letter today detailing the problems with the Government’s Energy Security Review's support for a new state-backed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal. They also call  on Minister Eamon Ryan to not support what would be one of the largest pieces of fossil gas infrastructure in Ireland and to maintain the Government’s prohibition on imports of highly polluting fracked gas. 

The Irish and US groups state their opposition to the proposal and the letter highlights how US President Biden announced a halt to approval of new LNG export facilities to review their national security, economic, and climate implications and Ireland should do the same.  The groups demand that responsibility for assessing the LNG proposal is removed from Gas Networks Ireland given their vested interest in expanding gas infrastructure. They also demand that the Government's strict conditions for any new gas reserve, relating to non-increasing demand, climate obligations and temporary emergency use, are codified before any decision is made. 

The letter – signed by Frack Action (USA), Friends of the Earth (Ireland), and Not Here Not Anywhere (Ireland) –  is available here: 

Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy in Friends of the Earth Ireland, said, “The best way to increase Ireland’s energy security and respond to the climate crisis is to end dependence on polluting fossil fuels. This means the Government must look at the long-term and not limit its assessment of storage to highly polluting and risky LNG. In order to prevent gas lock-in, it also means putting into law right now the strict climate-related conditions that the Government has already committed to for any emergency reserve.”

Julia Walsh, Director of Frack Action, said, “The Irish government has a moratorium on fracked gas imports via LNG and if this terminal is approved, it will put this policy in question. LNG terminals pose significant national security & safety risks, the same risks that this report is stating it seeks to avoid. In the US, President Biden just paused new LNG export approvals to review the significant public safety, climate, and economic dangers, and Ireland must consider the same hams.”

The letter emphasizes the risks: 

LNG is a major national security and public safety risk, yet Government has not considered those issues in its Energy Security Review. LNG can ignite and cause uncontrollable fires that are so hot they can burn people up to a mile away, a grave concern in Cork and the Shannon estuary, the two main locations where an import terminal could be built.

Beyond the national security and public safety risks, a LNG terminal is counter to Ireland's climate change commitments. New scientific research from Cornell University Professor Robert Howarth finds that LNG is at least 24% worse for the climate than coal. A recent joint letter from more than 170 scientists describes how LNG facilities are inherently leaky operations, prodigious emitters of methane, and terrible for the climate. Furthermore, building a floating LNG import terminal threatens the existing government policy that places a moratorium on fracked gas imports.

To protect the environment, public health, and meet our climate commitments, the groups called on Minister Ryan to: 

  1. Instruct GNI to immediately stop its work on examining a proposal to build a state-backed floating LNG import terminal.

  2. Direct the Commission for Regulation of Utilities to conduct an independent review of safety, national security, and climate risks of a floating LNG terminal and other storage options with input from the Climate Change Advisory Council, including underground storage in the South-West Kinsale reservoir given that the Energy Security review states it will also be subject to further research and must also be considered as part of any analysis on  an emergency reserve. 

  3. Immediately codify Action 17 of the Energy Security Review in an enduring and binding manner (legislative or regulatory) that any emergency gas reserve must not increase demand and must be in compliance with the 2021 Climate Act before any decision is made and before the end of the current Government’s term.

  4. Institutionalise the Government’s 2021 Policy Statement and the Programme for Government commitment to ban the import of fracked gas.