A Second Wave of COVID-19 Looms Large—and It’s Not Because of Protests
By Derrick Z. Jackson
All over America, protesters have taken to the streets to protest the police murders of African Americans George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville and the white vigilante lynching of African American Ahmed Aubrey in Brunswick, Georgia. Part of the news coverage has dwelled on the speculation that the protests will fuel a second wave of COVID-19. One infectious disease scientist, Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, made the rough calculation that the protests could ultimately lead to between 15,000 and 50,000 overall coronavirus infections and between 50 to 500 deaths.
Of course, any additional death is a sad continuance of a tragedy that has disproportionately devastated the same communities brutalized by police. But it barely compares to the rioting of the virus and the looting of lives incited by the incompetence of the Trump administration and state decisions to prioritize reopening for business over public health. Those policies have seriously worsened a pandemic that has already caused 113,000 deaths in the United States according to the latest New York Times figures and is still racking up 50,000 infections in the nation every two to three days and around 1,000 deaths every day.
And even if one does focus solely on the protesters, it should be noted that while people certainly did not stay at least six feet away from each other in the throngs, most of those pictured in photographs from the marches and rallies wore face coverings.
Police Contribute to COVID-19 Risk
Those same masks worn by protesters were too often ripped off in agony as police around the nation chose to break up usually peaceful protests with tear gas and pepper spray. Researchers told National Public Radio that the gasping and violent coughing can project the virus of an infected person many feet. Many of those gasping people were then herded into packed vans and sent to crowded jails.
The Army has found that tear gas training exercises make soldiers more susceptible to acute respiratory illnesses, and the increased risk of COVID-19 spread triggered by using tear gas is so high that Duke University researcher Sven Eric Jordt told NPR, "Using it in the current situation with COVID-19 around is completely irresponsible."
The police also displayed more irresponsibility than the people they were supposed to control by often spurning face coverings for themselves and practicing no social distancing. Several New York City police officers told the media that face coverings are too hot and difficult to breathe through while dealing with protesters. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, local and county policy said they did not wear face coverings because they hampered communication.
That did not wash with the Rev. Alaina Cobb of the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center. She said to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, "We see once again the significance of the police's disregard for the health, safety and even lives of those who they feign they are here to protect."
The police actions mirrored political disregard around the nation for health, safety, and lives—especially those of black and brown people. Governors in many states ignored pleas not to reopen so quickly from mayors of cities whose populations are significantly of color and hard hit by COVID-19.
One of the most dramatic dismissals of the damage and continuing risk of COVID-19 to black people came a month ago in Mississippi, where Governor Tate Reeves announced an aggressive reopening of close-contact gyms, hair salons, and barbershops on the same day the state hit a record high in new cases. He could reopen with unspoken racial comfort as a white governor. Mississippi is 59 percent white, but 52 percent of the state's COVID-19 deaths have been suffered by African Americans, who are more vulnerable to the disease through a combination of poor prior health, congested living conditions, and riskier essential jobs.
As my epidemiologist wife Michelle D. Holmes pointed out in her own commentary in Vox Populi, Reeves justified reopening by claiming that the economic damage was becoming as "disastrous" as the virus. Vigorously objecting to this equating of money with life was Chokwe Antar Lumumba, mayor of Mississippi's heavily black capital of Jackson. He said, "It's a bad decision to freeze economic progress, but a worse one to sacrifice human lives."
White Privilege Unmasked
The rush back to business by Reeves and so many governors who have pursued aggressive openings gives a new expression of white privilege in America. In striking photographs from all over the country, predominately white crowds are packed shoulder to shoulder, with few face coverings, at raceways, at Lake of the Ozarks, West Coast and East Coast beaches, and at the launch of SpaceX.
These photos showcase a kind of jolly version of the angry, all-white, and supremacist-influenced anti-lockdown protests at state capitols. The images amount to an open declaration that the pursuit of white happiness is an unalienable, unalterable right. It offers up a perverted version of America the Beautiful, where alabaster crowds beam, undimmed by COVID-19 tears from black and brown communities.
Shutting Up Every Scientist They Can
The nation's cheerleader for this version of happiness is President Trump, who has overtly shunned mask wearing and social distancing. His administration gave a royal welcome to the coronavirus by shuttering most of the pandemic-warning apparatus built up by prior administrations. Now the White House is helping to assure a second wave by shutting up every scientist they can.
Chief among the silenced has been whistleblower Rick Bright, who said he was removed from a top post combatting infectious threats because he told the administration it was moving too slowly to stem the spread of the coronavirus. He warned a House hearing last month that, without a coordinated national response based in science, "the pandemic will get far worse."
It appears that the silencing of science is also now muting one of the few voices America could count on for sane public health advice during the now-evaporated coronavirus task force press briefings in which Trump ranted about dubious virus remedies, personally attacked reporters, and self-congratulated himself on closing borders despite the dead. CNN reported on June 1 that infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said he had not talked with Trump since May 18. In a June 1 interview with STAT News, Fauci expanded on this, saying:
"We used to have task force meetings every single day, including Saturday and Sunday, and about 75 percent of the time after the task force meeting, we'd meet with the president. So, I was meeting with him four times a week back, a month or so ago. But as you probably noticed, the task force meetings have not occurred as often lately. And certainly, my meetings with the president have been dramatically decreased."
COVID-19 Cases Increasing in Nearly Half of All States
In the absence of federal leadership, not to mention science-based leadership, we find ourselves in the midst of a 50-state experiment, weaving a clashing quilt of regulations and timing in opening up shopping malls, restaurants, barbershops, beauty parlors, gyms, churches, and childcare facilities.
Universities—responsible for 20 million young adults—are releasing their plans for fall re-openings that display no consistency, ranging from the Harvard School of Public Health and the California State University System remaining online to aggressive plans for in-person classes at schools such as Notre Dame and Purdue. Top college football teams are opening facilities, AMC Theaters says it will reopen its cineplexes in July. The National Basketball Association, which jumpstarted the closure of mass events in mid-March by suspending the season, says it plans to resume its season at the end of July.
And on what public health evidence? Not much. Consider that:
- According to the June 11 New York Times coronavirus map, coronavirus cases are increasing in 20 states and Puerto Rico, based on 14-day trajectories;
- According to the June 11 Johns Hopkins coronavirus map, 21 states and Puerto Rico were seeing an increase, based on a three-day rolling average.
- A June 8 Washington Post analysis found that 14 states and Puerto Rico saw their highest-ever seven-day average of new cases in the pandemic. The states were: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah;
- According to the June 10 version of The Atlantic's COVID-19 Tracking Project, states "trending poorly" toward safe reopenings outnumber those "trending better" by a 3-to-1 margin. Only six states were trending better while 20 were trending poorly. The other states and the District of Columbia were in a muddled middle, making progress in decreasing infections, but still raising concern given their limited intensive care units and low testing levels;
- And Columbia University infectious disease specialist Wafaa El-Sadr noted to the Wall Street Journal that the national average of cases, which seem to be on a gradual downward trend, might be a dangerous illusion created by the few states that were hit hard early but since have made major progress in curbing COVID-19. "If you take out the impact of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and so on, you'd have a much more worrisome picture of what's happening in the U.S.," El-Sadr said.
No matter which tracking map you look at, the list of states most poorly controlling the virus are dominated by those which have aggressively relaxed COVID health protections and been most supportive of the Trump administration's drive to get back to business regardless of safety. In the Atlantic map, not a single Southern or Southwestern state shows a decreasing trend in the spread of disease. It is equally scary that the largest blue state in the country, California, is seeing new outbreaks as it begins to lift restrictions after being one of the first states to shut down.
Now that every state has reopened in some way, there are new outbreaks from California to the Jersey Shore and from Utah to Florida from family gatherings, beach vacations, churches, people going back to workplaces, resumption of college sports practices, and factory food processing. In the purple swing state of North Carolina, state health secretary Mandy Cohen told the Wall Street Journal on June 8: "These trends moving in the wrong direction are a signal we need to take very seriously."
A Texas-Sized Problem
Even though there is plenty of emerging evidence that new outbreaks are spreading out into whiter parts of America, you would not know that from governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas.
Like other governors of states in which COVID-19 deaths of people of color outnumber those of white residents, Abbott is reopening Texas as though he can gerrymander the boundaries of the virus to protect privileged communities. We know that social distancing and face coverings offer the best tools we have to prevent the spread of the coronavirus without a vaccine. Despite how badly the White House botched the beginning of the pandemic, a study released June 8 in the journal Nature found that state lockdowns still averted some 60 million infections.
Nonetheless, despite Texas seeing a 53 percent increase in its rolling 14-day average number of virus cases as of June 10, Abbott has announced plans to allow Fourth of July celebrations, to let sports stadiums and retailers operate at 50 percent capacity, and to let restaurants serve meals at 75 percent capacity.
Abbott was quite clear in his statements that he has not taken in any of the science about potential superspreading of the virus from large gatherings. He also seems to take perverse comfort in his reopening based on his perception of where the virus hits hardest, citing jails, nursing homes, and meatpacking plants.
The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting says that as of June 9, at least 24,000 meatpacking workers and family members have been infected with COIVD-19, with at least 86 worker deaths. "We have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business," Abbott said. Translated, Abbott's statement amounts to a plan to contain the virus to communities that are disproportionally made up of people of color. While he didn't bother to say it, the fact is that inmates, meatpackers, and nursing home staff all tend to be disproportionately black and brown.
Failing to Prioritize Justice and Public Health
The major question now is what will come of an America that is smoldering in the photographed displays of white privilege, the pillaging of science by the Trump administration, and an uprising of black grievance.
The uprisings started with police killings but have also reminded us that racism itself is a fatal virus that has been with us far longer than COVID-19. Back in 2005, former Surgeon General David Satcher estimated that 83,500 black lives a year could be saved by eliminating health disparities. In the COVID-19 crisis, the APM Research Lab estimates that at least 14,400 African Americans would still be alive if they died from the virus at the same rate as white Americans.
One source of those disparities—one tied to the COVID-19 crisis—is environmental injustice. Even as protesters marched in the streets, President Trump signed an executive order last week waiving environmental reviews for fossil fuel facilities and pipelines, mining, and other toxic industries. People of color live disproportionately close to lung-penetrating particles and poisonous fumes from industrial plants, increasing their vulnerability to the worst effects of COVID-19.
At a June 9 House hearing, Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice at the National Wildlife Federation and former senior adviser for environmental justice at the Environmental Protection Agency, tied the protests and environmental justice together. According to The Hill, he said, "Black communities are dealing with the systemic racism that has infected the policing in our communities that is literally choking us to death. The rolling back of environmental rules and regulations has us gasping for air due to the cumulative public health impacts from the burning of fossil fuels," he said, according to The Hill. "When we say, 'I Can't Breathe,' we literally can't breathe."
The Looming Second Wave
A lot more people will not be breathing if we get a second wave of disease anything like the fall resurgence of the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed most of the 675,000 Americans who perished from the virus. If we do, this country will have no one to blame but itself. The widespread abandonment of state lockdowns began a month ago even though just one-quarter of all states were reporting a decline in COVID-19 caseloads and even fewer had robust virus testing programs in place.
The US reopenings are proceeding even though the Imperial College of London has found "little evidence that the epidemic is under control in the majority of states." They are proceeding even though Harvard University global health expert Ashish Jha told National Public Radio on June 10, "It's stunning to me that we have just decided it's OK for tens of thousands of Americans to die. And we aren't going to do what we know we can do to prevent those deaths. And that is, to me, unconscionable."
They are proceeding even though Irwin Redlener, director of Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness, recently told MSNBC that without strong testing and tracing, it is a "disaster for the country to have these various states opening. We should be reconsidering this right now. If it was up to me, I'd put a halt to this reopening."
That makes it ludicrous to spend a whole lot of time speculating about the spread of COVID-19 from protesters. The far greater concern is the rampage on science and public health now underway by governors and the White House.
To effectively combat the pandemic, we need a just response guided by science and accurate data. But in this terrible moment when Americans have taken to the streets in droves because a police officer put a fatal knee to the neck of a black man, tens of thousands more Americans now risk of dying because the states and the White House have applied a figurative knee to the neck of our public health.
Derrick Z. Jackson is a UCS Fellow in climate and energy and the Center for Science and Democracy. He is an award-winning journalist and co-author and photographer of Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock, published by Yale University Press (2015).
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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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