Letter to the Editor: Think twice before approving expansion request

Published 12:07 pm Thursday, March 17, 2022

By John C. Allaire

From my home in Cameron Parish, I see hundreds of marsh birds: ospreys, pelicans, ducks, ibis, terns, roseate spoonbills —  beautiful wildlife and views unique to this corner of Louisiana. This is God’s country.

I also see tankers loading liquefied gas and sailing away. Their cargo is American energy. More often than not, their destination is one of our global competitors.

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My name is John Allaire, and since 1980, I have been an environmental engineer with some of the largest oil and gas companies. I’ve also served as an environmental coordinator for onshore oil and gas production and drilling here in Louisiana. In my more than 40 years of experience, I have never seen anything quite like the current gas export boom.

As I write this, oil and gas companies are claiming we need additional gas export terminals to liquefy and ship gas. They have been telling Louisiana residents and the federal government that this proposed expansion is necessary for jobs, energy independence and, most recently, to help our friends and allies in Europe. None of this is accurate.

Each proposed terminal, including the one planned near my home, Commonwealth LNG, has one purpose: to prepare gas for export. They do not provide gas for electricity, home heating, products, or any other kind of fuel to us here in Louisiana or the US.

Once the gas is shipped, it enters the global market, where companies will sell for the highest price. Sometimes that may be in Europe, but much more often, that is now in China, where the gas will be put to use fueling the economy of America’s largest economic competitor and its greatest geopolitical adversary.

Since 2019, fuel exports from Louisiana to China have skyrocketed from 6,851 million cubic feet in 2019 to 449,667 million cubic feet in 2021 — an increase of 6,564 percent. And in China, three out of five petroleum companies are government owned, while the other two are effectively under government control.

China, unlike our friends and allies, is building its economy not only to improve the lives of its people, but to unseat a democratic United States as the world’s leading power. Also unlike many of our trading partners, China is backing Putin in his brutal attempt to crush democracies and spread authoritarianism, as he is now doing to innocent civilians in Ukraine.

Across the US, the industry is raising prices by taking gas out of our economy. It’s not just gas prices, either: it’s the price of everything, from a cart of groceries to a tank of gas. That’s because this same gas that is used to heat homes is used to generate electricity, produce fertilizers to grow our food, manufacture medical devices and pharmaceuticals, and even make many basic plastic products. This massive price hike amounts to a huge transfer of wealth from average Americans to oil and gas companies.

Here in Southwest Louisiana, this extractive industry has already consumed precious sections of our coast and paved over wetlands that we, as residents, rely on to absorb floodwaters and protect our homes. With its planned expansion, we can count on more flooding and intense storm impacts — to say nothing of all the jobs in hospitality, restauranteering, fishing, and tourism that would be lost by destroying our beautiful places.

Fortunately, we have a voice when it comes to whether or not more gas export terminals are allowed to be built. In fact, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is holding a hearing March 17 to consider whether another export terminal should be built here in Cameron Parish.

Please join me at the hearing at 6 p.m. tonight at the Cameron Parish Police Jury, West Annex Building, Meeting Room 148 Smith Circle, Cameron Parish, LA 70631 and say no to Commonwealth LNG in Cameron Parish.

Let’s defend Southwest Louisiana, our country, our coast, and our homes for future generations.

John C. Allaire is an environmental engineer who has worked with Amoco and BP in the Gulf since 1980. He resides in Cameron Parish.