Sheinbaum warned about gas projects that would affect the Gulf of California

Sheinbaum warned about gas projects that would affect the Gulf of California
Sheinbaum warned about gas projects that would affect the Gulf of California

MEXICO CITY (apro).– More than 30 environmental organizations have warned the virtual president-elect, Claudia Sheinbaum, about “serious and irreversible impacts” on ecosystems and communities in the Gulf of California area if fossil gas infrastructure projects continue, such as the terminal planned in Puerto Libertad, Sonora, encouraged by the current federal government.

These projects, in addition to presenting irregularities in the process of obtaining permits, would be ignoring considerations regarding greenhouse gas emissions, as well as environmental and social impacts, they warn.

“The country’s real needs are geared toward accelerating the fair energy transition to clean energy, reducing energy dependence on hydrocarbons, and supporting Mexico’s technology and science for the implementation of sustainable energy alternatives,” says a letter delivered to the transition office.

In this letter, which is also addressed to the next Secretary of the Environment of Sheinbaum’s cabinet, Alicia Bárcena, the organizations point out that there is a proliferation of gas industry projects in that region, particularly liquefaction terminals for the export of fossil gas to Asia with the consent of the current federal government.

This policy “represents a serious setback in Mexico’s environmental and climate commitments and puts our role in the global climate crisis at risk,” they say.

Originally, the organizations had sent a first communication to Sheinbaum in her capacity as presidential candidate last April, which they also addressed to the then candidate of the PRI-PAN-PRD coalition, Xóchitl Gálvez, and to the candidate of Movimiento Ciudadano, Jorge Álvarez Máynez, on this issue.

In it, they warned that, with the increase in gas production by the United States, Mexico becomes “an unfortunate opportunity” for that country to consolidate its export plans, mainly of liquefied natural gas, to the global market, through routes that involve the Gulf of California, Baja California and Sonora.

“It is worth reiterating what is happening with the Sonora LNG Terminal, a gas liquefaction plant that has received authorization for its construction and operation by the National Agency for Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection of the Hydrocarbon Sector (ASEA) and whose projection is to receive fossil fuel in a gaseous state from Texas,” using the Sierra Madre Natural Gas Transportation System (Border-Puerto Libertad) for this purpose.

This system is actually a gas pipeline of more than 800 kilometers in length, also authorized by ASEA.

They cited scientific estimates that the annual indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by this pipeline would be 56.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

They also mentioned that the governor of Sonora, Arturo Durazo, recently announced the construction of a second liquefaction plant in Guaymas.

Its operation “will aggravate the issue of emissions and add another project to the danger of industrializing the coasts of the Gulf of California,” in addition to the fact that to date there is no record of an Environmental Impact Statement for said terminal, they specified.

The EsGasFósil organization explained that in 2006, the project initially called “Sonora LNG Terminal” obtained environmental impact authorization from ASEA, but for the construction of a regasification plant, where ships with liquefied natural gas would be received for later transportation to the United States.

But in 2017, the ownership of the project, which was owned by Sonora, S. de RL de CV, passed into the hands of the company Mexico Pacific Land Holdings, S. de RL de CV and a year later, ASEA itself authorized the change from a regasification plant to a liquefaction plant.

“A fossil gas liquefaction plant is more polluting than a regasification plant, since, for example, it includes large gas compressors that will release more methane,” the organization said.

However, they warn that Mexico Pacific Land Holdings intends to use the same environmental impact authorization that was granted in 2006 to the previous owner, without making a new environmental impact statement.

The project, according to information contained in the environmental impact assessment application, includes the Saguaro Connector Pipeline, to transport fossil gas from a distribution center in Texas to the Mexican border; from there it would connect with the Sierra Madre pipeline, which transports the gas to the planned liquefaction plant in Puerto Libertad, Sonora, for export from there to Asia.

“Aquarium of the world” at risk

The push for the terminal in Puerto Libertad, as well as the “Sierra Madre” gas pipeline, distances Mexico from its decarbonization commitments,” says the letter delivered to the transition office of the president-elect. But, above all, they warn, it means a potential impact on the Gulf of California, “the aquarium of the world” as this ecosystem is known, they point out, an area that was declared a World Heritage Site in 2005.

They recalled that some of the characteristics that led to this UNESCO declaration are the diversity of terrestrial and marine life, including migration routes, feeding and reproduction of species such as the gray whale and the humpback whale.

They therefore ask Sheinbaum and the next head of Semarnat to speak out and act to protect the seas and coasts, respect the public interest and human rights, as well as to combat climate change, by reviewing and revoking the authorizations that have been granted for the aforementioned projects.

Finally, the virtual president-elect was reminded that, recently, the administration of President Joe Biden established a moratorium on the authorization of permits for new liquefied natural gas terminals, a measure that would have to be replicated in Mexico.

The signatory organizations include: Mexican Alliance against Fracking, Desert Conservation Walkers, AC, Mexican Center for Environmental Law, Center for Renewable Energy and Environmental Quality, Sonora River Basin Committees, Climate Connections and Greenpeace Mexico.

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