After nearly a decade of engineering work on the project, the Panama Canal's expansion opened for business on June 26.
At the center of that business, a DeSmog investigation has demonstrated, is a fast-track export lane for gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the United States. The expanded Canal in both depth and width equates to a shortened voyage to Asia and also means the vast majority of liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers — 9-percent before versus 88-percent now — can now fit through it.
Emails and documents obtained under open records law show that LNG exports have, for the past several years, served as a centerpiece for promotion of the Canal's expansion by the U.S. Gulf of Mexico-based Port of Lake Charles.
And the oil and gas industry, while awaiting the Canal expansion project's completion, lobbied for and achieved passage of a federal bill that expanded the water depth of a key Gulf-based port set to feed the fracked gas export boom.