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Huffman, Merkley Team Up with European Parliament to Urge Global Clean Energy Transition

May 19, 2022

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) joined Member of the European Parliament Marie Toussaint in a trans-Atlantic effort to transition to clean energy and prevent new liquified natural gas (LNG) infrastructure. The legislators led a joint letter to President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urging the recently created US-EU Task Force for Energy Security to develop a plan that ensures no new financing, exploration licenses, or permits for coal, oil or gas extraction, exports, imports, and infrastructure.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the window to secure a livable future is rapidly closing. Further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the United States and Europe is destined to set us back during a moment when we should be doing everything within our power to avert climate catastrophe,” the leaders wrote in their letter. “Such expansion will put both the United States and the European Union on the wrong path to meet our respective Paris Agreement goals, as outlined in the Joint Statement. Continued build out of fossil fuel infrastructure will also build on the already dangerous impacts faced by our frontline and fenceline communities. Hydraulic fracturing wells and LNG infrastructure poison our environment and the air and water that these communities rely on.”

Recent analysis shows that the European Union can replace two thirds of Russian gas by 2025 through energy efficiency and renewable energy, before any new liquefied natural gas infrastructure could come online.

Congressman Huffman and Senator Merkley have been a leaders in divesting from fossil fuel infrastructure and accelerating the transition to clean energy at home and abroad. Last November, Rep. Huffman and Sen. Merkley both attended the COP26 summit in Glasgow, where they stressed the importance of climate action to phase out fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Rep. Huffman and Senator Merkley also introduced the Sustainable International Financial Institutions Act, which would advance the transition to a global clean energy economy through aligning the role of the United States in international financial institutions to end support of new fossil fuel activity. Earlier in 2021, the lawmakers also introduced the Keep It in the Ground Act to stop new fossil fuel leases and put an end to nonproducing leases on public lands and waters and transition to a clean energy future.

“Representative Huffman, Senator Merkley and MEP Marie Toussaint are showing the leadership we desperately need to stave off climate chaos and create long-term energy security by pushing to break our reliance on filthy fossil fuels. The current energy crisis highlights how dependence on oil and gas is driving economic insecurity for consumers reeling from higher energy costs. Profiteering companies are pushing a false narrative to justify greater investment in fracked natural gas that will enable them to continue gouging the public and destroying our planet and our climate,” said Jim Walsh, Policy Director, Food & Water Watch.

“This is a critical moment to be rapidly transitioning to affordable clean energy, not doubling down on fossil fuels. Allowing for the expansion of new and expanded gas export facilities would lock in decades of reliance on risky, volatile fossil fuels and spell disaster for our climate and communities,” said Sierra Club Associate Legislative Director Talia Calnek-Sugin. “We applaud the signers of this letter for sending a strong signal that the path to true energy security is a transatlantic commitment to investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, not dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure.”

In addition to Congressman Huffman and Senator Merkley, the letter was signed by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Andy Levin (MI-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Dina Titus (NV-01), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Alan S. Lowenthal (CA-47), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Marie Newman (IL-03), and Alma S. Adams (NC-12). In the Senate, the letter was signed by Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Joining MEP Toussaint were MEPs Maria Arena, José Gusmao, Manon Aubry, Petros Kokkalis, Michael Bloss, Philippe Lamberts, Mohammed Chahim, Marisa Matias, Leïla Chaibi, Tilly Metz, Ignazio Corrao, Ville Niinistö, Ciaran Cuffe, Jutta Paulus, Bas Eickhout, Sirpa Pietikainen, Cornelia Ernst, Caroline Roose, Eleonora Evi, Paul Tang, Claudia Gamon, and Ernest Urtasun.

The full letter can be viewed here or below:

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC, 20500

Ms. Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission

Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200

1049 Brussels

Dear President Biden and President von der Leyen:

Thank you for your leadership during this incredibly challenging time. We are writing today to respond to your recent Joint Energy Security Statement, establishing the joint Task Force for Energy Security. We applaud your efforts to respond to the crisis in Ukraine, end the import of Russian oil and gas, and accelerate the global transition to clean energy. We agree that the energy security and sustainability of the European Union and Ukraine are essential for peace, freedom, and democracy in Europe. Existing fossil fuel infrastructure as well as projects being constructed, or soon to be, are already more than enough to match the necessary amount of demand if renewable energy technologies are deployed as aggressively.

It is essential that the Task Force for Energy Security develops a plan that ensures no new financing, exploration licenses, or permits for coal, oil or gas extraction, exports, imports, and infrastructure. While the Joint Statement included specific details for natural gas, it did not contain such specificity for developing clean, renewable energy. The Task Force must develop a plan to swiftly move the European Union and United States off fossil fuels and onto clean, renewable energy by 2035. It is critically important that our countries not lock ourselves into decades of further reliance on fossil fuels when climate science, environmental justice, and public health concerns necessitate a rapid transition towards full renewable energy.

Liquified natural gas (LNG) infrastructure can take at least three years to build, thus failing to address Europe’s short-term energy needs to transition off Russian gas. Building new fossil fuel infrastructure diverts resources from the investments we need to address the climate crisis and ensure the energy security from energy efficiency and renewable sources. Recent analysis shows that the European Union can replace two thirds of Russian gas by 2025 through energy efficiency and renewable energy, before any new LNG infrastructure could come online. Instead of focusing on LNG expansion, the Task Force should focus on the clean energy strategies outlined in the Joint Statement, such as ramping up heat pump deployment and installations, scaling procurement for clean energy equipment, and accelerating clean energy workforce deployment.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the window to secure a livable future is rapidly closing. Further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the United States and Europe is destined to set us back during a moment when we should be doing everything within our power to avert climate catastrophe. Such expansion will put both the United States and the European Union on the wrong path to meet our respective Paris Agreement goals, as outlined in the Joint Statement. Continued build out of fossil fuel infrastructure will also build on the already dangerous impacts faced by our frontline and fenceline communities. Hydraulic fracturing wells and LNG infrastructure poison our environment and the air and water that these communities rely on.

The European Union and United States must prioritize investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electrification, which are critical to transitioning off fossil fuels and will allow us to move past the boom-and-bust cycles inherent in fossil fuel energy. Additionally, we must end financing, exploration, and permits for new fossil fuels infrastructure. This is the pathway to true energy independence and climate security. We look forward to your plan to ensure a clean energy transition and a rapid transition off fossil fuels. 

Sincerely,

[Members of Congress]

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