Leonardo DiCaprio Urges Public to Oppose Gibbstown Fossil Fuel Project — How to Help

What exactly is the Gibbstown fossil fuel project? And has the project been approved to begin construction?

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Dec. 10 2020, Updated 4:53 p.m. ET

Leonardo DiCaprio
Source: Getty Images

To effectively combat the climate crisis, we need to shut down existing fossil fuel projects, stop building new ones, and keep the oil in the ground. And yet, it seems like another new fossil fuel extraction project is proposed every week. The latest example in the U.S. is the Gibbstown Logistics Center, to be built along the Delaware River.

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Social media posts from Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo made many more people aware of the project this week — but what exactly is the Gibbstown fossil fuel project? And has the project been approved to begin construction?

gibbstown fossil fuel project
Source: Getty Images
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What is the Gibbstown fossil fuel project?

The Gibbstown fossil fuel project is a proposal to expand an existing deepwater port terminal to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) along the Delaware River, as per the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). A deepwater port is a manmade structure located out of state seaward boundaries, used as a terminal for the transportation or storage of oil or gas, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

The terminal in question is located along the Delaware River, and the proposed new facility would be at the Gibbstown Logistics Center in Gibbstown, N.J., just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

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Has the Gibbstown project been approved?

Not yet. On Wednesday, Dec. 9, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy — as well as other Democratic governors and President Donald Trump — voted in approval of the Gibbstown project, as NJ.com reported. The same day, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) granted its final blessing for a second dock to be built for this project at the Gibbstown Logistics Center.

However, even though the project now has the support of these lawmakers — as well as permits from several necessary entities, including the DRBC, the Army Corps, and the New Jersey DEP — more permits are still required for the LNG facilities to be built, as Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club told NJ.com. “Rest assured that this is just round 1, and we will continue the fight,” the NJ Sierra Club tweeted.

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The Gibbstown fossil fuel project would harm the environment, marginalized communities, and more.

As the NRDC noted, the Gibbstown Logistics Center would be the first liquefied natural gas project to exist in the Delaware River Basin — and that’s not an accomplishment. 

The project, being managed by New Fortress Energy subsidiary Delaware River Partners, poses a number of environmental and public health hazards. It would mean hazardous fracked gas would be transported via truck and train for lengths of more than 200 miles at a time, winding through residential areas, ultimately being transported by massive shipping boats down the Delaware River, eventually being sold to other countries. 

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As noted by the NRDC, LNG emits the potent greenhouse gas methane (during extraction, storage, and transportation). A small leak of LNG can cause an explosion, making it a particularly dangerous substance to be transported through residential communities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, many of which are Black, Brown, and low-income neighborhoods

Additionally, the project would threaten ecosystems in the Delaware River, which is home to numerous species of animals and plants; it would release toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the river; and it could put the river’s water quality at risk, which puts locals at risk, since a whopping 16 million people get their drinking water from the river. 

Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo are spreading awareness about Gibbstown.

Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo posted on social media about this project, expressing disdain for the environmental and human rights hazards that it poses. As DiCaprio noted in his post, the NRDC has a form on its website you can quickly fill out, which will send a note to your state’s governor, urging them to vote no on the Gibbstown fossil fuel project. Click here to send your letter.

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