CNN's Jim Acosta hosts frontline community activist to discuss climate justice implications of Biden's decision to pause LNG export permits

Roishetta Ozane: “I have two children who suffer with asthma, I have children who suffer with other respiratory and skin conditions, and all have been linked to long-term industrial exposure”

On January 26, the Biden administration announced it would pause issuing new permits to liquefied natural gas export facilities in order to reevaluate the climate criteria used to approve them. The decision was lauded by members of the climate community, including those who live adjacent to proposed LNG facilities and fossil fuel infrastructure.  

During the January 28 edition of CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta, the anchor spoke to one frontline community member to understand not just the climate implications of building out more oil and gas infrastructure, but the harmful health impacts those facilities have on communities where they are sited. 

The segment was a rare but welcome example of how TV news can cover major stories through a climate justice lens. This enables audiences to better understand the real impacts of the fossil fuel infrastructure that undergirds our economy and how the transition to clean energy not only contributes to global efforts to reduce climate change-causing emissions, but it can also reduce myriad health impacts suffered by those living in the shadow of the oil and gas industry.

As noted in a joint 2021 report from Greenpeace, the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, and the Movement for Black Lives: “The fossil fuel industry contributes to public health harms that kill hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. each year and disproportionately endanger Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities.”

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Citation From the January 28, 2024, edition of CNN Newsroom with Jim Acosta

JIM ACOSTA (ANCHOR): White House is pausing approval on projects to export liquefied natural gas in order to conduct a climate review. And joining us now to talk about this is climate activist Roishetta Ozane. She is the director and founder of the Vessel Project of Louisiana, a grassroots environmental justice group.

Roishetta, thank you so much for talking to us. We really appreciate it. You also live in Sulfur, Louisiana, a town near several major liquefied natural gas terminals, and we're showing some of the video of what it looks like to live near one. And we're just trying to put this in perspective so folks understand why the administration might have done this sort of thing. You've had to deal with this firsthand. What's it like?

ROISHETTA OZANE: Thank you so much for having me, Mr. Acosta. Yes, I am a mom of six living here in Sulfur, Louisiana. You can imagine living in a town with the name Sulfur what it's like, just from the name of the town. So we are surrounded by more than a dozen petrochemical and plastic and oil and gas facilities and three LNG facilities. Our air smells like rotten eggs. There is constant flaring, as you can see in the video. It sounds like trains are coming back and forth. I have two children who suffer with asthma, I have children who suffer with other respiratory and skin conditions, and all have been linked to long-term industrial exposure. Now me and my family are not alone in this — there are several families dealing with the same thing, and we decided to get together and stand up for our children for their right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.

OZANE: The Biden administration made a monumental decision in the fight for climate justice by announcing they are going to pause reviewing applications for new liquefied natural gas export facilities. We know in my community there's nothing natural about LNG, in fact it should be called LMG for liquefied methane gas, due to the amount of methane pollution that they release everyday. These facilities have proven to be more harmful than coal because of the way they have to be shipped.

Now, my community is a community where there's fracking, extracting and exporting. And when these gases are exported and shipped across the water, they are more dangerous than coal. Why are they located in and near communities and schools? I have, you know, several videos even from dropping my son, who has epilepsy, dropping him off at school, and you can see the flare right across the street from the school's door. So, you know, enough is enough. We can no longer put men and women in danger, all for money. It's time out for putting policy before people and funds before family. We’ve got to put people first, and this administration made a bold move, drew their line in the sand, and stood up to dirty oil and gas, and we say bravo to this administration. We know that they listen to us. We marched, and we signed petitions, we have threatened sit-ins, and they heard our voices.