Indonesia Forest-Clearing Ban Criticized as 'Government Propaganda’
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."
Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said President Joko Widodo had signed the permanent extension of the moratorium on Aug. 5. The moratorium prohibits the conversion of primary natural forests and peatlands for oil palm, pulpwood and logging concessions, and was introduced in 2011 by then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as part of wider efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.
The moratorium was initially slated to run for two years, but was extended three times since then, with the latest extension signed in 2017 and expiring on July 17 this year.
"This is a very good and positive thing," Siti said in a statement, adding that it was the latest concrete example of Widodo's commitment to environmental protection.
But the moratorium hasn't helped slow the loss of primary forests, say activists. If anything, they say, the deforestation rate has actually increased within areas that qualify for the moratorium.
Forest Loss and Fires
The rate of deforestation in areas covered by the licensing ban between 2011 and 2018, the period during which the moratorium has been in force, is down 38 percent from the seven years prior, according to data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
But analysis of satellite imagery by Greenpeace shows that deforestation rates increased in those areas after 2011. The NGO recorded 12,000 square kilometers (4,630 square miles) of forest loss within the moratorium areas in the seven years after the ban was implemented. This corresponds to an average annual rate of deforestation of 1,370 square kilometers (530 square miles) — higher than the average 970 square kilometers (375 square miles) per year in the seven years before 2011.
Greenpeace said the government's data were neither consistent nor available in a format that can be processed using geographic information system (GIS) software. Instead, it relied on data from the University of Maryland, which has been tracking tropical deforestation rates around the world since 2001.
"The Indonesia forests moratorium is a good example of government propaganda on forest conservation," said Kiki Taufik, the head of Greenpeace's Southeast Asia forests campaign. "It sounds impressive but doesn't deliver real change on the ground."
The moratorium has also had a questionable impact on preventing fires in the areas it's meant to cover, Greenpeace found in its analysis of government data. Nearly a third of the 34,000 square kilometers (13,100 square miles) of forests and land burned between 2015 and 2018 were in moratorium areas, mainly in the provinces of Central Kalimantan, Papua, South Sumatra and Riau.
During the particularly intense fire season of 2015, 7,000 of the 26,000 square kilometers (2,700 out of 10,000 square miles) of burned areas were in moratorium areas. So far this year, with the fire season shaping up to be the worst since 2015, a quarter of the hotspots are in moratorium areas, Greenpeace found.
Another study, published in 2015 at the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), also measured the effectiveness of the moratorium in reducing deforestation and emissions from it by evaluating deforestation and emission rates circa 2011 against rates over the period 2000 to 2010.
According to the study, less than 3 percent of deforestation and less than 7 percent of emissions would have been avoided had the moratorium been implemented in 2000.
"For Indonesia to have achieved its target of reducing emissions by 26 percent [by 2020], the geographic scope of the moratorium would have had to expand beyond new concessions to also include existing concessions and address deforestation outside of concessions and protected areas," the study concluded.
Fires engulf a palm oil plantation in Rokan Hilir district, Riau, Indonesia.
Zamzami / Mongabay Indonesia
Much of these problems are down to loopholes in the moratorium, activists say.
The policy explicitly prohibits the issuance of new plantation and logging permits for carbon-rich primary forests — but not for secondary forests, defined under Indonesian law as those that have previously been logged to any extent.
As a result, some parties are deliberately clearing areas of primary forest within moratorium zones for the express purpose of degrading them. Once that happens, these areas are recognized as secondary forest, and thus fall out of the scope of the moratorium, says Zenzi Suhadi, the head of advocacy at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).
"The moratorium only applies to primary natural forests, but once they're degraded and became secondary forests, permits can be issued there," Zenzi said. "This is what makes natural forests keep losing their cover."
He said the government should include secondary forests in the licensing ban. But the government has previously rejected the proposal, saying that doing so would deprive local and indigenous communities of their right to manage the forests on which they depend.
There's also the problem of the moratorium's shape-shifting nature, with swaths of forest omitted over the years.
Greenpeace's analysis has found that 45,000 square kilometers (17,400 square miles) of forests and peatlands have been removed from the map since 2011. Of these, 16,000 square kilometers (6,200 square miles), or more than a third, have since been licensed out for various commercial uses.
Greenpeace's Kiki attributed this to a requirement that the government revise the moratorium map every six months — what he said amounted to a major loophole that companies could exploit to have areas they're interested in removed from the map.
"Deforestation and forest fires have continued inside moratorium areas, and boundary maps get regularly redrawn to remove forest or peat areas that are of interest to plantation companies," he said. "Making it permanent doesn't fix its fundamental weaknesses and won't stop forest and peatland degradation in Indonesia."
Zenzi of Walhi said he found a similar pattern when analyzing the number of permits issued after the moratorium was enacted in 2011. A huge number of permits were granted that year and in subsequent years under the Yudhoyono administration, he said.
The size of permits issued under Yudhoyono, from 2011 to 2014, while the moratorium was in force, amounted to 164,000 square kilometers (63,300 square miles), an area nearly the size of Florida. Under Widodo, who took office in 2014, Zenzi said, the government issued permits for 17,000 square kilometers (6,600 square miles) of land.
"The moratorium was established during Yudhoyono's era, but at the same time, he also issued many permits," he said. "So what's the deal with this moratorium? Is it really designed to curb deforestation and emissions, or is it aimed to greenwash the issuance of permits [for exploitation] that's already happening?"
In all, the total area subject to the moratorium has shrunk by 30,000 square kilometers (11,600 square miles), according to Muhammad Teguh Surya, the executive director of the NGO Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan.
"But there's no explanation on the locations of the omitted areas and for what or whose interests" they were omitted, he said.
As long as the moratorium map continues to be subject to revision, Zenzi said, the problem would persist.
"It shows that this moratorium doesn't prevent people's desires to get permits for natural forests in Indonesia, because the map can be adjusted," he said.
Iban dugout canoes on the Utik river in Sungai Utik's customary forest in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.
Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay
While the moratorium is administered by the national government, the revision of the map happens at the local level. Businesses typically lobby local authorities to revise their zoning plans for areas that have been identified as falling inside the moratorium boundary. The pliant local officials then rezone these areas as being for "other-use" purposes, known as APL in Indonesian, where mining and oil palm cultivation are permitted.
The local government will then notify the forestry ministry of this change, and once approved, the area in question is dropped from the moratorium map.
Zenzi said this was a common practice, particularly in the run-up to election, when local government leaders are seeking funding for re-election. A textbook example of this is the case of Annas Maamun, the former governor of Riau province in Sumatra, one of the most extensively deforested provinces in Indonesia, and the heartland of the country's palm oil industry.
Annas was arrested in 2014 for taking 2 billion rupiah in bribes (about $160,000 at the time) from a palm oil businessman to rezone swaths of forest in the province as APL areas. The move was meant to legitimize the plantations already operating there.
In 2015, a court convicted Annas of corruption and sentenced him to six years in prison. An appeals court in 2016 upheld the conviction and added another year to his sentence.
Zenzi said this particular practice cleverly exploited another loophole in the forest moratorium: the fact that it explicitly bans the issuance of new permits, but not the conversion of forest areas into APL areas.
Between 2009 and 2014, local leaders across 22 provinces proposed the conversion, through zoning revisions, of a combined 122,500 square kilometers (47,300 square miles) of forest. Nearly two-thirds of that land has since been converted, leaving the fate of the remaining 44,500 square kilometers (17,200 square miles) of forest hanging in the balance.
"What I'm very worried about is this year, because next year there will be concurrent local elections in some provinces and districts, and many incumbents are running again," Zenzi said. "If we look back at 2014, many incumbent politicians proposed for forest areas to be released [from the forestry ministry]."
Mangrove forests on Bungkutoko Island in Southeast Sulawesi province, Indonesia.
Kamarudin for Mongabay Indonesia
Another shortcoming of the moratorium is that large tracts of primary forest aren't covered by it and are thus vulnerable to exploitation, according to Greenpeace.
It found 333,000 square kilometers (128,600 square miles) of primary forest and more than 65,000 square kilometers (25,100 square miles) of peatland, some of it forested, open to development.
Zenzi attributed this to yet another loophole in the moratorium, which doesn't prohibit the issuance of new permits that have already been applied for or processed — especially if what's known as a principal permit was issued prior to the moratorium coming into effect.
A principal permit effectively marks the start of a company's formal application process for a forest conversion permit.
"In Papua, there's a lot of APL areas that are still natural forests. There's a possibility that they're not included in the moratorium areas because there are already principal permits there," Zenzi said. "This is a weakness of the moratorium because it doesn't stop the process of permit issuance if a principal permit has been issued."
Teguh of the NGO Madani also questioned the future of forests outside the moratorium map. The moratorium currently covers 660,000 square kilometers (255,000 square miles) out of the 894,000 square kilometers (345,000 square miles) of natural forests in the country, according to 2018 data from the forestry ministry.
"Does it mean that the forests outside those [protected under the moratorium] are ready to be converted?" Teguh said.
At the same time the government also plans to expand the size of acacia plantations (for pulpwood to make paper products) by 50,000 square kilometers (19,300 square miles) by 2030, according to the forestry ministry.
Teguh said such a plan contradicted the moratorium and if left unaddressed would make the situation "even more confusing." It could, he said, "become a loophole to deforest and threaten the achievement of our climate commitment."
A birdwatching guide in West Papua, Indonesia. Tourism can bring money into local communities and give an incentive to conservation.
Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay
Oil Palm Moratorium
The moratorium could, in theory, be shored up by a newer prohibition on issuing licenses for new oil palm plantations. The latter moratorium, issued last September by President Widodo, also bans the clearing of natural forests even if they've been zoned as APL areas.
But that moratorium applies only to the palm oil industry and will be in force a maximum of three years.
And even after the moratorium went into force, the forestry ministry was still granting forest conversion decrees permits without consequences, according to Zenzi. He cited the case of one such decree, issued in May, to convert a forest area spanning 913 square kilometers (353 square miles) in South Sulawesi province into APL.
Zenzi said the conversion had been requested by the governor of South Sulawesi as part of a proposal to convert 2,038 square kilometers (787 square miles) of forest areas into APL.
While the decree appears to contravene the oil palm moratorium, the forestry ministry can justify its decision by saying that the decree is only for conversion of forest to APL area. "Whether those areas will then become oil palm plantations or not are up to the local leaders," Zenzi said.
In Indonesia, the overwhelming use of APL land is for oil palm cultivation.
Zenzi said he had identified another proposal, by the government of Bengkulu province in Sumatra, to convert 500 square kilometers (193 square miles) of forest area into APL. He warned of an influx of similar proposals to the forestry ministry ahead of next year's local elections, and said the issue needed to be monitored closely.
"The window to reduce forest areas is still wide open if local heads propose areas under the moratorium policy to be converted," he said.
Drained, cleared and burned peat forest in Indonesian Borneo.
Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay
The government has acknowledged the criticisms about the forest and peatland moratorium, but disputes some of them.
Belinda Arunarwati Margono, the director of forest resources monitoring at the forestry ministry and a former researcher at the University of Maryland, acknowledged separately that forest fires were still happening inside moratorium areas. However, she said they were contained mostly to areas without tree cover, such as peatlands, savannas and shrubland.
She also said the ministry had identified a similar size of moratorium area that was burned during the 2015 fires, but that only 3 percent of those fires had occurred in forested space, with the rest occurring in non-forested areas.
Similarly, she said that of the fires inside moratorium areas this year, only 0.8 percent occurred in natural forest areas.
"So from here we can see the effectiveness of the moratorium on forest fires," Belinda said. "Because the size of forested areas burned keeps getting smaller, and even now declined to less than 1 percent of the total areas burned."
Separately, Abetnego Tarigan, an environmental adviser in the office of the president's chief of staff, agreed that local governments, with the power to determine the boundaries of moratorium areas, played a crucial role in ensuring the policy was implemented properly.
"The role of the Ministry of Home Affairs is very important in making sure the local governments truly comprehend and carry out this presidential instruction" on the licensing ban, he said. "The local governments are the ones who spearhead the implementation of the presidential instruction."
Abetnego also called for a monitoring system that's more open and publicly accessible so that the civil society can help monitoring areas that were protected under the policy.
But Teguh from Madani said it was precisely the opacity and lack of a public monitoring system that allowed for the exploitation of the moratorium's loopholes.
"And the mechanism [of revising the moratorium map] isn't clear or open for the public to participate in," he added.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.
A Convergence of Issues<p>The unequal impacts of a changing climate have become extremely clear in 2020, so equity has come to the fore of climate conversations in every corner of the country. A global deadly pandemic continues to rage out of control in the U.S., heat waves are setting new temperature records, wildfires are scorching American Western states, and the hurricane season has already made it to the end of the alphabet for naming storms. In all cases, low-income, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities are bearing a disproportionate amount of the impacts.</p><p>"Today, the scab is off, the ugly reality of injustice is hitting us up close and personal, made more realistic by this COVID pandemic," Bullard says.</p><p>This year the decidedly youthful focus on intersectionality is a big part of what defines the transformation of the climate movement. Climate is not just an environmental issue, according to youth activists. It's also a racial justice issue, an economic issue, and an access-to-health care issue.</p><p>"Environmental justice is really seeing the intersection of these issues," says Alex Rodriguez, a community organizer with the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which aims to make environmental issues a priority for the state's elected leaders. The group is now focusing their efforts on the coming election and recently succeeded in persuading the state to allow absentee voting in November. "We want people to be safe when casting their vote," says Rodriguez, 26, whose fellow grassroots committee members range from age 16 to 60.</p><p>Rodriguez, who also serves on the equity and environmental justice working group for the Governor's Council on Climate Change, says, "We see our programmatic work as a way to help lawmakers see what they can do to improve the dignity of those suffering from environmental racism, systematic racism, and economic oppression."</p><p>Seeing the overlap and bringing these issues together is a strength that Bullard says was missing from the civil rights organizing he was involved with in the 1960s. He says 2020 is unique in many ways.</p><p>"The number of marchers is unprecedented, from different economic, ethnic, and racial groups—an awakening unlike any that I've seen on this Earth in over 70 years," Bullard says. "Today, the different movements are converging, and I think that convergence makes for greater potential for success."</p>
Young and Old<p>But young people are one essential demographic among many when it comes to climate action. With all that's on the line for climate in the coming elections, up and down the ballot, collaboration becomes key. Bullard says previous generations of climate activists can now play the critical role of mentoring, assisting, and supporting. Standing with, not in front of, youth.</p><p>"Youth are leading us and taking on frontline activity," says Jayce Chiblow, the community engagement lead for Indigenous Climate Action, a Canadian organization that works for Indigenous-led climate justice solutions. But in doing so, she says many young Indigenous activists are experiencing the trauma of violence, getting arrested, and being taken away from their land. "All of our older people are supporting those youth: Elders, mentors, people trained in nonviolent action," Chiblow says. "The youth aren't alone."</p><p>That support can go a long way. "There's a lot of anger and a lot of fear, and that's understandable," says Wazer of Sunrise Connecticut. "I definitely feel those things, too, just considering the ways that our future has been threatened and kind of trashed by older generations."</p><p>Under the Trump administration, the number of environmental rollbacks alone can be disheartening, not to mention new <a href="https://www.yesmagazine.org/video/arctic-national-wildlife-refuge/" target="_blank">drilling permits in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge going up for auction</a>.</p><p>Wazer is frank about the risks of burnout, depression, and anxiety from the stress of it all, but draws inspiration from the example of the late U.S. representative and lifelong civil rights activist John Lewis. "That forgiveness and that ability to keep fighting and stay motivated … I think that that is something really powerful to learn from older generations."</p><p>An intergenerational approach can leverage the individual strengths of youth and older people in all their diversity.</p><p>"The elders hold our stories," says Chiblow, who is Anishinaabe from Garden River First Nation, Ontario. Those stories include lived experiences, culture, history, and generations of adapting to changes in climate. Such collective experience continues to inform Indigenous knowledge and connections to the land, as well as how people manage and govern themselves in relation to it. This knowledge is passed on through relationship-building and storytelling.</p><p>"Every time you hear that story, you're at a different point in your life, and you'll pick up something else … something new," Chiblow says.</p><p>Changes in perspectives that come with time and experience are among the reasons why intergenerational learning and coalitions are critical to the climate movement. To combine that living and learning is to expand the reach and meaning of the message exponentially. As part of her research for her master's degree, Chiblow brought together youth, community leaders, and knowledge keepers in her community to workshop climate action. "Those relationships are vital to keep that movement going," Chiblow says.</p>
The Unique Value Proposition of Elders<p>Older activists bring unique strengths to the table, according to gerontologist Mick Smyer, who designs strategies to move people from anxiety to action on climate. He calls himself "the aging whisperer to climate groups" and "the climate whisperer to aging groups." He is quick to point out that the learning can go in both directions.</p><p>"I think older adults are untapped resources," Smyer says. "Older adults bring several resources, one of which is their circles of influence. Just by virtue of having lived longer, older adults are going to have denser and richer networks," Smyer says. "The second is, when it comes to voting and civic engagement, older adults, as an age group, outperform all other age groups."</p><p>He uses the 2016 presidential election to illustrate his point: "The older age groups, 70% of them voted. Nobody [else] came close." He is cautious about making sweeping statements about older people broadly, but he says that ageism is alive and well. And that can deter the kind of collaboration that would beget necessary progress on climate action.</p><p>As the twin global patterns of an aging population and a changing climate continue arm in arm, Smyer says a good place for starting this work is within one's family.</p><p>"We each have that power to use in our circles of influence, particularly in our families, and we don't realize it," Smyer says. Whether it's via Zoom or FaceTime or a phone call or a chat in the living room, Smyer says, family members have a superpower: They will listen to each other, and they'll at least start the conversation.</p><p> "Intergenerational collaboration around climate issues, particularly in this election season, starts at home, and then goes to the polling booth," he says.</p>
Speaking the Same Language<p>As an individual's network of family, friends, and connections becomes wider and more diverse, the more work will need to be done to have them all working toward the same goals. That is equally true for the climate movement at large.</p><p>In bridging the gaps among baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials, Bullard says, "Each generation will have some idiosyncrasy and uniqueness about it that another generation will not understand or comprehend."</p><p>If everybody in a group or institution is similar, then there's no need to explain a lot, Bullard says. There's usually a fair amount of shared knowledge and values. But the more diverse that group gets, in age, race, gender, or culture, he says, the greater the potential for making mistakes, stepping on people's culture, and causing pain. But the potential for learning also increases exponentially.</p><p>Chiblow says successful collaboration comes down to being able to speak in shared concepts. The term "justice," for example, is an English word that's hard to translate into the Anishinaabe language. Chiblow says that because her community sees itself as belonging to the land, and being part of the land, the Anishinaabe worldview, and therefore their understanding of justice, is necessarily more holistic than the mainstream.</p><p>"Indigenous people have been feeling [the effects of climate change] for so long," Chiblow says. Today, as wildfires rage across the West, the mantra of "I can't breathe" is being driven home on a grand scale. For better and worse, climate justice is finally a front-page story.</p><p>"It's affecting the broader society," Chiblow says. "We're finally at the turning point where we could start to make real change because … people are really starting to feel that urgency."</p><p>The urgency will be tantamount in the coming election. A lot is at stake, says Chiblow: "Incentives, funding, all-around agreement, and also the way we're able to manage our lands and ourselves as people."</p><p>Bullard, too, is insistent on urgency. "This election is one of the most important elections of a generation, because there's so many things at stake," he says. "We can't wait another 40 years on climate. We don't have that much time. We don't have 40 years to get justice."</p><p>Issues of climate justice will be on the ballot in state and local elections this fall, such as Nevada's proposed renewable energy standards and Louisiana's proposed disaster funding. And the topic has finally made it onto the national stage. Joe Biden called Trump a "climate arsonist" for not acting on or even admitting that the wildfires in California are clearly climate-related. The frequency and intensity of such disasters is indisputable.</p><p>"Hurricanes don't swerve to avoid red states or blue states. Wildfires don't skip towns that voted a certain way," Biden <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-address-west-coast-fires-confront-growing-threat/story?id=73000218" target="_blank">said in a speech on Sept. 14</a>. "The impacts of climate change don't pick and choose. That's because it's not a partisan phenomenon."</p><p>In many ways, the results of the upcoming elections will reflect the ways youth activists and older activists are able come to a common understanding of what climate justice means and what they want the future world to look like. </p><p>"There's a lot of knowledge built up in experience, and there's a lot of energy that's stored in young people," Bullard says. "When you put those two together, you have … an excellent recipe for potential success."</p>
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By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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