2022 in Review: Our movement Is Stronger Than Ever

As 2022 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on how we have seen the impacts of our reliance on fossil fuels play out on a national and global scale, - from the climate crisis to the geopolitics of energy markets – and all of the ways that our movement to stop the expansion of the oil and gas industry is stronger than ever. Alongside the communities who are most impacted by fossil fuel pollution, Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign has been putting in the work to protect our air, water, health, and climate. Together with our partners, we have stopped or delayed over $200 billion of oil and gas infrastructure, which accounts for avoiding carbon emissions equivalent to 610 million cars or 755 coal plants. 

Unexpected changes in global politics impacted the energy economy dramatically this year. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drove drastic increases in prices for fracked gas and an opportunistic push by industry to expand gas exports. Oil and gas companies raked in record profits expanding U.S. production and OPEC+ squeezed supply.  As long as we rely on volatile global commodities like oil and gas, we’ll always be vulnerable to geopolitics and the whims of greedy fossil fuel executives and the politicians they finance. But, the truth is that building increased export infrastructure will not help our European allies quickly transition away from Russian fossil fuels, and only lock us into gas production for decades. 

To counter this argument, we’ve focused this year on building the movement to stop the build out of liquified methane gas (LNG) export terminals to advance environmental justice and to ensure that the gains we’ve made to reduce carbon emissions in other sectors of the economy are not undermined by an increase in emissions from the build out of gas exports. Sited primarily in communities of color, proposed LNG export facilities perpetuate environmental injustice and harm in communities of color along the Gulf Coast. Working alongside grassroots leaders Roishetta Ozane and John Beard and so many more, we are exposing the harmful impacts that the fossil fuel industry is having on our communities, air, water, and climate and challenging elected officials, agencies and companies backing this polluting industry. 


In 2022, Sierra Club filed sixteen legal actions on LNG facilities, including seven state and federal lawsuits and nine interventions and petitions for rehearing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy. We challenged the Army Corps of Engineers’ issuance of a water-crossing permit for Rio Grande LNG. Four fracked gas export projects in Texas and Louisiana delayed final investment decisions, reflecting the significant grassroots and legal pressure facing these and similar projects and the uncertainty of the global gas market. This isn’t the only place we’ve built some momentum for climate justice. 

Together, we scored major victories in our decade-long fight against the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). After years of fighting, MVP withdrew the pipeline’s proposed Southgate extension’s eminent domain proceedings in North Carolina – abandoning their efforts to secure the land necessary to build that section of the pipeline. Without this land, the Mountain Valley Southgate extension is unlikely to ever be built. Our work has also stalled construction on the more than 300 mile MVP mainline. Legal victories centered on both the protection of endangered species like the Candy Darter and of water quality in the Jefferson National Forest have shown that the MVP is fatally flawed and patently illegal. This project should never have begun, and we will ensure that it is never completed. 


 In short, the Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign fought to protect people, air, and water from oil and gas from coast to coast. 

  • Along with partners, we kept up the pressure on California Governor Newsom and the California legislature to successfully pass Senate Bill 1137, which will prevent new permits for oil and gas drilling within a 3,200ft comprehensive health and safety zone from homes, schools, and other sensitive areas. The harms are outlined in a report about widespread methane leaks from idle wells in neighborhoods.1
  • Buckeye Environmental Network, Sierra Club, EarthJustice and 30 grassroots organizations petitioned the United States Environmental Protection Agency to revoke Ohio’s authority to manage the state’s class II injection well program, where fracking waste is stored, because of failures by Ohio Department of Natural Resources to protect drinking water and public health and protect environmental justice communities. 
  • We  launched an accountability campaign in Pennsylvania, calling attention to bad actors, like the company Diversified, that allow massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions to leak from abandoned or idle oil and gas wells
  • Our movement secured the historic Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 focused on solutions and an equitable transition to a clean energy economy. It lays out $369 billion directed to over 100 programs that will bring down everyday costs for families, drive job creation, and reduce pollution in our communities.2
  • We continue to beat back Senator Joe Manchin’s polluter side deal that could rubber stamp the Mountain Valley Pipeline and fast track other fossil fuel infrastructure, and celebrated the news that these provisions were kept out of must-pass government funding legislation. In the lead-up to this win, we coordinated lobby visits for frontline partners from Appalachia and the Gulf Coast and joined them for a powerful rally on Capitol Hill. We will continue to fight any effort to overturn bedrock environmental laws.  

Lastly, 2022 was a pivotal year in the growing movement to push financial institutions to end funding for new fossil fuel projects and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. The Fossil Free Finance campaign worked to hold big US banks and global money managers accountable to their climate commitments, and held federal agencies, like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve, accountable to protecting the economy from climate-related financial risks. Together with the Sierra Club Foundation, we advanced shareholder resolutions introduced at major US banks during their annual meetings. They supported frontline communities fighting LNG export expansion and launched defensive efforts in states facing Republican backlash to sustainable investing. And we helped local organizers publish op-eds in key local outlets in Louisiana and West Virginia criticizing projects and politicians, drawing critical attention to state leaders cutting ties with certain financial institutions, and highlighting Indigenous opposition to fossil fuel projects and the banks financing them. 

The oil and gas industry is not giving up in their commitment to expanding production. But neither are we. We will continue our fight against dirty fuels next year, and for as long as it takes to protect our communities, avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis, and accelerate the clean energy transition.

1 501(c)4 funded-activity. Legislative lobbying is conducted separately from our 501(c)3-funded programs.

501(c)4 funded-activity.

501(c)4 funded-activity.

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