Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition meets in Houston

Last week Air Alliance Houston welcomed our allies in the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition (CGCC) to town for our annual meeting. The Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition is a group of non-profit organizations that are working together to preserve and improve the health and integrity of the Gulf coast for generations to come. Coal export operations in the Gulf coast have historically been the major target of CGCC campaigns.

Together with Air Alliance Houston, the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition includes Public Citizen, t.e.j.a.s., the Gulf Restoration Network, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Southwings, the Sierra Club (including Texas and Louisiana chapters, as well as the Beyond Coal campaign), and more.

At our annual meeting, the CGCC was able to celebrate some recent victories. Most significantly, our allies in New Orleans have successfully opposed the proposed RAM coal export terminal in Plaquemines Parish, LA. Like many proposed export terminals before it, the RAM terminal was abandoned in the face of serious local opposition and the increasingly grim economics of coal. Our friends in the Gulf Restoration Network and the Louisiana Sierra Club deserve particular credit for this work.

After celebrating our victories, the CGCC turned to its remaining work. With the RAM terminal defeated, our Louisiana colleagues turn their attention to several other large coal export terminals proposed along the lower Mississippi river in Louisiana.

In addition to coal exports, the gulf is also home to many proposed export terminals for liquified natural gas. Also known as “LNG” or “fracked gas,” this product is abundantly produced from shale fields across America thanks to new enhanced oil recovery techniques such as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Locally, we have seen at least two consequences of this new abundance of natural gas.

First, newly proposed ethylene units. Companies including ExxonMobil, Dow, and ChevronPhillips are all expanding existing facilities to add ethylene units. These units will use inexpensive natural gas as a feedstock to produce chemical products for a considerable profit.

Second, fracked gas export terminals. Rather than using domestically produced natural gas domestically, many companies would prefer to sell it abroad for a quick profit. Exporting locally produced energy resources doe not promote energy security, a goal that many of our nation’s leaders aspire to. The CGCC opposes energy exports for this reason, and for the immediate health and environmental impacts energy exports have on the gulf coast.

So while our coal campaign continues, the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition is adding new areas of focus. These include fracked gas, oil trains, and any other activity that threatens the health of the gulf and its people.