26 Organizations Working to Conserve Seed Biodiversity
By Katie Howell
More than 6,000 plant species have been cultivated for food worldwide, but only nine account for the majority of total crop production, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO finds that crop diversity is continuing to decline across the globe because of unsustainable agricultural practices, industrialization, and increased urbanization.
Collecting and organizing genetic diversity as a conservation strategy emerged in the 1960s and now plays an important role in ensuring the world's collective food security. Seed saving organizations have helped secure over 100,000 seeds during wartime in Syria, preserve 13 million seeds from over 70 species of native trees in the United Kingdom, and contribute to over US$77 million in pastoral agriculture revenue in New Zealand. As the climate crisis continues, seed preservation may also be critical in research and innovation to help farmers adapt to changing conditions.
Seed conservation can occur on-site in farmers' fields or protected areas, referred to as in situ, or in off-site collections, known as ex situ conservation. Ex situ collections represent the most widespread conservation strategy for plant genetics–it includes seeds kept in cold storage, living plants grown in open field seed banks, or tissue, DNA, embryos, or pollen samples stored in vitro. "Such genebank collections provide a means to make unique biodiversity available cheaply, and effectively, for the long-term," according to Crop Trust, a leading organization dedicated to conserving crop biodiversity.
According to FAO, there are more than 1,750 ex situ seed banks across the world – both international and local – that preserve over 7 million samples of seeds, cuttings, or genetic material. To celebrate these efforts, Food Tank has selected 26 seed saving organizations working to promote seed diversity through seed banks, exchange networks, and educational programs.
1. ASEED Europe, Netherlands
Action for Solidarity, Equality, Environment, and Diversity (ASEED Europe) aims to achieve social justice and environmental integrity through grassroots organizing, education, and non-violent direct action. Founded in 1991, ASEED Europe organizes international campaigns focused on the decline of biodiversity in agriculture, the availability of seeds, and corporate concentration in the food system. They offer educational materials and training on topics such as seeds, climate change, trade, and food sovereignty.
2. Australian PlantBank, Australia
The Australian PlantBank is the largest native plant conservation seed bank in Australia. Housing over 100 million individual seeds in 10,000 seed collections, it has become one of the world's most biodiverse seed banks. Located in New South Wales, the PlantBank uses seed banking, cryostorage, and tissue culture for conservation, horticulture, restoration, and research efforts. They also offer educational tours to teach visitors about the important conservation work of scientists.
3. Botanical Research Institute of Texas, United States
Founded in 1987, The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)'s mission is to conserve natural heritage by educating the public about the value of plants. BRIT operates the Conservation Seed Laboratory and Seed Bank as a part of their larger Texas Plant Conservation Program. In 2017, BRIT joined the Center of Plant Conservation (CPC) to help Texas organizations protect and preserve rare and endangered native plants. Through community education programs and workshops, research initiatives, and events, BRIT aims to increase awareness about sustainable stewardship and the importance of plant diversity.
4. Cherokee Nation Seed Bank, United States
The Cherokee Nation Seed Bank is maintained by The Cherokee Nation Heirloom Garden and Native Plant Site. The bank collects rare, native plants from the Cherokee regions. Representing centuries of Cherokee history, the Seed Bank provides an opportunity to continue traditions of ancestors, as well as educate youth about the Cherokee Nation's agricultural past. Seeds may be requested by community members; varieties include heirloom corn, tobacco, and gourds. Additionally, the organization offers educational materials like planting guides to help growers maintain the plants' genetic integrity.
5. Camino Verde, United States & Peru
Camino Verde is a United States-based nonprofit with locations in Concord, Massachusetts and Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Camino Verde's mission is to plant trees and encourage future planting through educational programs and public awareness. From 2007 to 2016, Camino Verde worked to establish a Living Seed Bank of over 400 species of trees. With these seeds, they created a restoration forest center, planting over 25,000 trees whose nurseries now produce over 200,000 seedlings each year. The organization also works with farmers and native communities in the Amazon of Peru to help bring back forests to areas degraded by agriculture, gold mining, and ranching.
6. Crop Trust, Germany
The Crop Trust is an international organization whose mission is to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide. Through its Crop Diversity Endowment Fund, the Crop Trust funds the world's largest genebanks, including the Consultative Group for International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) genebank platform, Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and Seeds for Resilience–a project supporting five seed banks in Sub-Saharan Africa. The organization also works to develop government conservation strategies.
Located in St. Petersburg, the Federal Research Center All-Russian Institute of Plant Genetic Resources, or the Vavilov Research Institute (VRI), was founded in 1921 and has since expanded into 12 research stations throughout Russia. As the world's oldest and largest seed bank, they house a total of 60,000 seed varieties and their herbariums contain some 250,000 cultivated plant specimens and their wild relatives.
8. Hawai'i Public Seed Initiative, United States
The Hawai'i Public Seed Initiative (HPSI) was created by The Kohala Center in 2010 and is funded by the Ceres Trust. The initiative works to identify and save seed varieties best suited for the island's soils and climates. Through community seed networks and workshops, HPSI teaches people to select, grow, harvest, store, and improve seed varieties that can strengthen the state's food security. HPSI holds events to develop seed leaders across the state, including on Hawai'i Island, Kaua'i, O'ahu, Maui, and Moloka'i.
9. Irish Seed Savers, Ireland
The Irish Seeds Savers was founded in 1991 in County Carlow, before moving to Scarriff, Ireland. The organization aims to raise public awareness about the vulnerability of Irish agricultural biodiversity. They provide educational workshops to schools and community groups and aim to facilitate conversations between governments, universities, and gene banks. The Irish Seed Savers maintain a public seed bank with over 600 non-commercially available varieties of heirloom and heritage seeds, including rare vegetables, soft fruit, flowers, grains, potatoes, and apple trees.
10. International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia
Headquartered in Colombia, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) is a CGIAR research center focused on promoting agrobiodiversity and sustainable agroecosystems in Africa, Asian, Latin America, and the Caribbean. CIAT conducts crop research with its extensive genebank, which holds the largest global collection of beans, cassava, and tropical forages. CIAT provides seed samples free of charge to any individual or organization anywhere in the world for the purposes of research, breeding, or training.
11. Louisiana Native Plant Initiative, United States
The Louisiana Native Plant Initiative (LNPI) is a multi-agency effort that helps conserve native plants. The National Resource Conservation Service of Louisiana collaborates with their many partners to collect seeds, preserve native varieties, increase flora abundance, and research plant materials for future revegetation projects. The initiative has spearheaded several conservation projects to protect species such as the longleaf pine, switchgrass, big bluestem, little bluestem, smooth cordgrass, eastern gamagrass, and partridge pea.
12. Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, England
The Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst is a world leader in on-site conservation of wild plant species. The majority of the seed collections in the Seed Bank at Wakehurst are curated by the larger Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, a seed conversation network active in over 80 countries around the world. Currently, there are more than 92,500 seed collections in the bank, which represent over 40,000 species.
13. National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Perseveration (NLGRP), United States
Located on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation (NLGRP) is home to one of the world's largest plant and animal gene banks. NLGRP's mission is to support U.S. agriculture in producing high-quality food, feed, and fiber by acquiring, evaluating, preserving, and distributing critical genetic resources. In its plant division, the laboratory manages more than 10,000 plant species in long-term storage and on fields, orchards, and nature reserves.
14. Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, United States
Indigenous Seed Keeper Network (ISKN) is an initiative of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (NAFSA), a non-profit organization aimed at leveraging resources to support tribal food sovereignty projects. The mission of the Network is to nourish and assist the growing seed sovereignty movement across Turtle Island. ISKN provides educational resources, mentorship training, outreach, and advocacy support on seed policy issues, and organizes convenings to connect communities engaged in this work. Sierra Seeds, a nonprofit sister program to ISKN, also uses mentorship and education to create greater sustainability in food and seed systems by sharing essential practical skills and promoting seed literacy.
15. Native Seeds/SEARCH, United States
Based in Tucson, Arizona, Native Seeds/SEARCH (NS/S) aims to conserve and promote arid-adapted crop diversity in the southwest United States. Since it was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1983, NS/S has established a reputation as a leader in heirloom conservation. Its seed bank holds nearly 2,000 varieties of crops adapted to landscapes extending from southern Colorado to Mexico. These varieties include traditional crops such as corn, beans, and squash used by the Apache, Havasupai, Hopi, Maricopa, Mayo, and many other tribes.
16. Navdanya, India
Navdanya is a research-based initiative founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva, a world-renowned scientist and environmentalist. The organization is a network of seed keepers and organic producers that works across 22 states in India. Navdanya has helped set up over 150 community seed banks over the last 30 years. The organization has conserved and promoted undervalued crops such as millets, pulses, and pseudo-cereals and saved over 4,000 rice varieties. They also conduct research on sustainable farming practices and have provided training to over 750,000 farmers on food and seed sovereignty.
17. New York City Native Plant Conservation Initiative, United States
The New York City Native Plant Conservation Initiative began in 2008 as a partnership between the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. In response to declining native plant populations due to increasing urbanization, the initiative works to maximize long-term conservation of diverse native species. Launched with 34 endangered species, conservation efforts include collecting seeds, preparing and implementing protocols for restoration and management of native plant populations, and raising public awareness of the status of native plants in NYC.
18. Pima County Seed Library, United States
The Seed Library is a collection of open-pollinated and heirloom seeds in Pima County, Arizona. The library works to create local seed stocks that are acclimated to desert climate and support an abundant and genetically diverse landscape. The collection helps to support gardeners and educate community members about how to grow, harvest, and save seeds. Made up of almost 250 types of seeds, varieties include beans, flowers, herbs, melons, and more.
19. Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, United States
The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance (RMSA) is a nonprofit organization working to create a network of seed growers, distributors, and educators in the Rocky Mountain West region of the United States. Founded in 2014, RMSA emphasizes sharing of seed saving knowledge to preserve and promote the use of regionally adapted crops, herbs, wildflowers, and native grass seeds. To create a more resilient food system, the organization provides seed education resources, runs an online seed school, hosts an international seed festival, operates a regional seed vault, and more.
20. SeedChange, Canada
Formerly USC Canada, SeedChange is working to fight for farmers' rights to fair wages, land, and seeds around the globe. Through partnerships with nonprofits, they support over 30,000 small-scale farmers to restore degraded lands, share seeds, and start businesses. SeedChange projects are rooted in a Seeds of Survival approach, which emphasizes the importance of local seeds and local knowledge. They support about 70 seed banks run by the communities in which they are located, and hundreds of home seed banks cared for by the farmers in their own homes.
21. Seed Savers Exchange, United States
The Seed Savers Exchange is a nonprofit in Winneshiek County, Iowa that focuses on stewarding and sharing a large collection of open-pollinated seed varieties across the U.S. Founded in 1975, the organization works to ensure the preservation of diverse heirloom seeds to guarantee future food security. Today, Seed Savers Exchange has over 20,000 plant varieties and 13,000 members.
22. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, United States
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, located in central Virginia, is focused on seed varieties that grow well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S. Operating as a cooperative, the organization offers 800 varieties of vegetable, herb, flower, grain, and cover crop seeds. Sixty percent of their seed varieties are certified organic and over 60 percent of seeds come from small farmers. Some unique Southern heirlooms they offer include peanuts, okra, naturally colored cotton, butterbeans, and roselle.
23. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
Opened by the Norwegian government in 2008, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the world's largest secure seed storage facility. Also referred to as the doomsday vault, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault holds duplicates of seed samples from other regional, national, and international gene banks to serve as backup storage in case of emergency. Svalbard has the capacity to house 2.25 billion seeds, equaling 500 seeds of 4.5 million crop varieties. The seed vault is run by the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Nordic Gene Resource Centre, and the Global Crop Diversity Trust. It currently holds seeds of more than 4,000 plant species.
24. The Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, China
Created in 2004, The Germplasm Bank of Wild Species has collected over 80,000 seed samples from over 10,000 species of wild plants. The project is operated by the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and includes a seed bank, DNA bank, microbial bank, animal germplasm bank, and seed biology research center. According to one news source, by the end of 2018, the organization's seed storage accounted for one-third of the total wild plant species nationwide, making it the largest in Asia and the second of its kind globally.
25. The World Vegetable Center, Taiwan
The World Vegetable Center was founded in 1971 as the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC). Today, the Center conducts research, builds networks, and carries out training activities to raise awareness of the role of vegetables for improved health and poverty alleviation around the globe. The Center's Genebank is the world's largest vegetable germplasm collection, holding over 61,000 accessions–plant materials collected from different areas–sourced from 155 countries. Since its founding, the Center has distributed more than 600,000 seed samples to researchers in the public and private sectors in at least 180 countries. Their work has led to the release of hundreds of varieties throughout the world, especially in developing countries. The World Vegetable Center Genebank is part of the global germplasm network, Genesys.
26. Vrihi, India
Vrihi, the Sandskrit word for "rice", was founded by ecologist Dr. Debal Deb and is now the largest folk rice seed bank in Eastern India. In 1997, Vrihi began as a partnership of a nationwide folk crop conservation movement between the Centre of Interdisciplinary Studies (CIS) and Dr. Vandana Shiva's Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE). Since 2000, Vrihi has been an independent organization, working to promote the cultivation of folk rice varieties and reestablish non-commercial seed exchange.
Correction: A previous version of this article mentioned The Kohula Center. The organization should be spelled The Kohala Center. The article has been corrected to reflect this change.
Reposted with permission from Food Tank.
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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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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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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