‘Sacrifice zone’: Gulf Coast helps meet global natural gas needs, but at what cost?
Updated: Mar 27
The Cameron LNG export terminal in Louisiana. (Cameron LNG)
By Pam Radtke for Floodlight and the Guardian
About 30 miles south of New Orleans, a construction site visible from space is rising. Sandwiched between the Mississippi River and disappearing wetlands, the 256-hectare (632-acre) site is visited by a stream of tipper trucks and concrete mixers that stir up dust on Louisiana 23, the state highway that goes down to Venice, the last spot of land before the river’s water flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
The wetlands protect the area from hurricane surge and provide critical habitat for fisheries. But when completed in 2025, the construction site here will host a series of tanks and pipes designed for one purpose: to supercool natural gas into liquid form, so it can be transported on giant tankers to sell around the world to the highest bidder.
The Plaquemines liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal is just one of five such terminals being built or expanded along the US Gulf coast in Louisiana and Texas. Eight more projects have been approved, and another eight have been proposed – all in a stretch of roughly 700 miles, and where five plants are already operating. If all the new terminals were built, they would double or even triple current US capacity to deliver natural gas – an amount of fuel that, if burned, would contribute to the world tipping over the emissions target required to keep global heating in check.