Hurricanes can move, and have moved, pipelines significant distances, creating a slew of risks to the marine environment, navigation and fisheries. It’s very scary to think about the increased risk of offshore oil spills or other accidents. — Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity
Hurricanes can move, and have moved, pipelines significant distances, creating a slew of risks to the marine environment, navigation and fisheries. It’s very scary to think about the increased risk of offshore oil spills or other accidents. — Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity

Taking action to address climate change can strengthen our communities and our economy. — Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards
Taking action to address climate change can strengthen our communities and our economy. — Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards

Ida Hit One of the Country’s Biggest Oil and Chemical Hubs
The most intense hurricane on record to strike Louisiana swept through one of the nation’s largest chemical, petroleum and natural gas hubs. And while it may take days or weeks for the full extent of the storm’s impact to become clear, early reports of damage have heightened concerns over the vulnerability of the region’s fossil fuel infrastructure to intensifying storms.

... Louisiana’s 17 oil refineries account for nearly one-fifth of the nation’s refining capacity, with the ability to process about 3.4 million barrels of crude oil per day, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. In 2020, Louisiana’s two liquefied natural gas export terminals shipped out about 55 percent of the nation’s L.N.G. exports.

Much of that capacity was built after Katrina, and plans are in the works for a dozen more liquefied natural gas export terminals in the region — including at Port Fourchon, where Ida made landfall on Sunday.

Environmental groups have criticized those plans, saying they contribute to the very climate crisis that poses a threat to those facilities. “Last year, Laura also made landfall at record strength in the other part of the state where they want to build this mess,” said Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, a local environmental group. “In the best of times, it’s a disaster.”

Oil and gas development has also been a big driver of coastal wetlands loss in Louisiana, as canals dredged by producers hasten saltwater intrusion.

Neighborhoods just outside these facilities, many of which are disproportionately made up of minorities, face other risks.

A recent report published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that oil and gas producers have been allowed to abandon 97 percent of offshore pipelines in the Gulf without incurring any penalties.

“Hurricanes can move, and have moved, pipelines significant distances, creating a slew of risks to the marine environment, navigation and fisheries,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental nonprofit group. “It’s very scary to think about the increased risk of offshore oil spills or other accidents.”

Environmental groups hope that the succession of destructive hurricanes will bring about a wider debate over the state’s energy and climate policies. According to the Energy Information Administration, Louisiana ranks among the top three states in the nation for total energy consumption, as well as energy consumption per capita, largely because it has so many energy-intensive industries. The state ranks next to last in renewables as a share of total energy consumption.

But in a shift, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said this year that the state needed to start drastically reducing the fossil fuel emissions that are the main driver of climate change and its catastrophic effects, including intensifying hurricanes, flooding, rising sea levels and extreme heat.

“Taking action to address climate change can strengthen our communities and our economy,” Governor Edwards said.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/30/climate/ida-chemical-plants-refineries.html