Get our newsletters
Guest Opinion

PA Grange head’s opinion left out important facts


I found it curious that someone identified as the president of the Pennsylvania State Grange was promoting the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in our local paper (“Pause on LNG projects may hurt economy, security,” May 23).

Then I saw the slap at President Biden and surmised this was another well-disguised political message.

Unfortunately, the guest column also included several factual errors and omissions. Here’s what I was able to research:

• LNG production and export have not been cut under the Biden administration. LNG exports went up 8.6% from 2021 to 2022 (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration) and, under an agreement reached with the European Union in March of 2022, an additional 15 billion cubic feet of LNG were directed to the EU. This was almost a year before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and exports to Europe have further increased to accommodate the loss of Russian-supplied LNG.

• Why are we exporting almost all of our LNG? First, there’s almost no domestic market for LNG — U.S. consumption of LNG has been declining for decades since its peak in 2007. Second, LNG consumption is high in the EU, which includes the world’s top four consumers of LNG — France, United Kingdom, Spain and Netherlands. (Source: USEAI) While the U.S. and the EU are committed to reducing our reliance on burning fossil fuels for energy, everyone recognizes this cannot occur overnight and, in the meantime, we need to make sure our allies can survive without buying fuel from our enemies.

• If there’s so much of a market for LNG, why not produce even more? Because exporting LNG requires specialized ports at both ends and equally specialized ships. While that capacity has ramped up in recent years, the production of LNG cannot exceed that capacity because it’s difficult to store the stuff safely, and overproduction would create a worldwide market glut, killing the LNG industry. (Remember, during COVID, when full oil tankers were literally floating around our oceans because demand had plummeted and there was nowhere to put the oil?)

The idea that LNG will somehow become a savior to our farmers, and that “natural gas is a cleaner-burning fossil fuel,” ignores the environmental and other impacts of fracking (like ground water contamination and depletion, and frequent tremors in places like Oklahoma, that were not known for earthquakes), and the ongoing impact to our agricultural industries from climate change.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 90% of crop loss in our nation is caused by weather extremes, predominantly drought and flooding. You can see this for yourself if you go pick strawberries locally (if there are any). This year’s crop has been decimated by the spring’s unusually heavy rains, and a pint (not a quart) of the berries is selling for $5 or more at farm markets.

When we talk about the economic benefits of increased use of LNG (or any other fossil fuel), we must factor in the very real economic downside of climate change. In addition to the billions of dollars of crop loss, we are experiencing billions of dollars of infrastructure and personal property loss each year. (Just look how the local governing bodies in Lambertville and Lower Makefield have been struggling with storm water management, following multiple epic floods in recent years.)

This further drives up the costs of every form of property insurance.

When looking at the economics of fossil fuels and climate change, we must start looking at both sides of the balance sheet. We must also ask ourselves, “What kind of world are we leaving behind?”

Edward Richardson lives in Doylestown Township.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.