Unbelievably, in 2024, we are still having conversations about importing liquified natural gas to Hawaiʻi. The governor’s recent remarks at the Hawaiʻi Energy Conference left many scratching their heads when he stated that liquified natural gas (LNG) must be part of the mix as the islands consider ways to lower energy costs, build energy resilience, and lessen our carbon footprint. “If the goal is to use less carbon and get there sooner so that we are actually renewable, we have to have everything on the table,” Green said.

We all agree Hawaiʻi must use less carbon and reach its renewable energy goals as soon as possible, but there is no place for LNG in our renewable energy portfolio. It is not clean. It is not renewable. It is not cheaper. And as if that’s not bad enough, LNG causes harm to human and environmental health, while also accelerating climate breakdown.

Hawaiʻi has a long teeter-tottered on LNG imports. The Lingle Administration said no to LNG in its renewable portfolio, then the Abercrombie Administration looked into LNG to replace oil, then the Ige Administration opposed LNG, and now here we are with Governor Green considering it once again.

The fossil fuel industry has worked hard to muddy the waters and greenwash LNG, so much so that it can be hard to know where to start on setting the record straight—but here it goes:

LNG is not only not clean, it’s worse than coal

LNG is not “clean,” nor is it “cheaper,” especially with the climate crisis already threatening everything we love. The often touted talking points that LNG is a “cleaner” fossil fuel, or a safer “bridge” to our clean energy future doesn’t hold up. The reality is LNG is just another dirty, dangerous energy source and a bridge to nowhere except more fossil fuels.

In fact, when looking at data analyzing the LNG lifecycle, including fracking and extraction, liquefaction, tanker transport, regasification, final distribution, and combustion, and all the emissions that leak along the way, LNG has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than coal. That’s because LNG is mostly methane, a greenhouse gas with a climate-warming potency that is over 80 times higher than carbon dioxide in the near term.

The Rocky Mountain Institute explained it best: “If carbon dioxide wraps one warming blanket around the planet, methane piles on over 80 additional blankets that can’t be tossed off to cool down for at least 12–20 years. When gas leaks along the supply chain — whether from wells, pipelines, compressors, storage tanks, liquefaction equipment, stoves, or furnaces — it essentially superheats the climate.”

LNG is no fracking joke

Besides emissions that are literally fueling the climate crisis, extracting the gas to make LNG, through fracking, is extremely damaging to the environment and harmful to surrounding communities. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of taking freshwater and mixing it with chemicals and drilling down into the earth to inject this high-pressure chemical soup into the rock to force out the gas inside.

Fracking requires a massive amount of water, somewhere between 1.5 million and 9.7 million gallons of water for a single well, mixed with an additional 15,000 to 60,000 gallons of chemicals. Water used for hydraulic fracturing is typically freshwater taken from groundwater and surface water resources. The resulting wastewater is extremely toxic, as it contains cancer-causing chemicals, so it is disposed of deep underground. The growing practice of fracking is quickly depleting freshwater resources and is contaminating water supplies across the globe, sickening and destroying nearby communities.

A bridge to nowhere

Importing LNG to Hawaiʻi means a commitment to an energy portfolio that includes LNG long-term. LNG projects require huge investments in infrastructure to import, store, and distribute the gas. This financial burden is likely to fall on taxpayers like you and I.

“Moving to LNG would require a great deal of investment in infrastructure including terminals at the port. We have all agreed that 100% renewables is the goal for the state. It begs the question of whether making an investment that would last decades is consistent with the public vision and stated goals,” noted Jennifer Potter, former member of the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission in response to Governor Green’s comments regarding LNG.

Every dollar spent on LNG would move us backward by delaying our investment and transition to truly clean renewable energy. Period.

Bad for public health too

On top of the environmental and community health impacts of fracking, LNG also impacts the health of families that use gas appliances in their homes.

Many unsuspecting families, in Hawaiʻi and beyond, have fallen for the dangerous lie that gas is “clean and safe.” In reality, gas stoves and other indoor gas appliances harm human health by leaking hazardous air pollutants inside homes even when not in use, including cancer-causing benzene. Gas-burning appliances can also trigger asthma, coughing, and potentially increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. Bottom line, there is no such thing as clean, safe gas, not for our homes, not for our communities, and not for the climate.

Furthermore, the transport, storage, and use of LNG poses significant safety risks, including the potential for explosions and fires. As the climate crisis worsens and brings about hotter temperatures and drought conditions, the threat of more and larger fires cannot be ignored.

If Hawaiʻi were to invest in LNG infrastructure, it could only be expected that utilities will also pivot towards the promotion of more gas appliances in homes—harming more families’ health, putting more lives at risk, and further deepening our reliance on fossil fuels.

Not another import

As for the touted “lowering costs and building resilience,” LNG would do the opposite. Price volatility of LNG is a well-established fact. This can lead to unpredictable energy costs for consumers and businesses. Relying on imports for our energy, as we’ve already painfully learned, only increases our vulnerability to global market shocks.

At a time when Hawaiʻi needs to move full speed ahead to a 100% renewable, carbon-free future with real climate solutions such as decentralized clean energy production and rooftop solar plus storage, importing LNG will only drag us back to the fossil past, and seriously undermine efforts to move us forward with our clean energy goals.

Last year was the hottest year in human history, and this year is expected to be even hotter. Scientists have reported that, for the first time, global warming has exceeded the 1.5C warming “limit” across an entire year. We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.  If we don’t get our act together quickly and stop being swayed by greenwashing from corporations that care only about their profit margin, we will leave our children and future generations a world that is increasingly unhealthy and uninhabitable. We must stop putting carbon into the atmosphere, but that won’t happen with false climate solutions like LNG.

Call Governor Green at 808-586-0034 and tell him “NO” to LNG!