The Biden administration declared a pause on granting new export permits for natural gas on Friday, as they evaluate its effects on climate change. This decision was made despite the significant contribution of these exports to the US economy and its influence in Europe.
The recent statement, which was initially revealed by POLITICO two weeks ago, marks the most extensive action taken by President Joe Biden to restrict the growth of the fossil fuel sector, even though Republicans have made claims to the contrary. It also highlights the renewed impact of environmental organizations on the White House as Biden gears up for the upcoming November election.
Last month, the U.S. participated in the U.N. climate summit in Dubai alongside almost 200 countries and committed to reducing reliance on fossil fuels. President Biden reaffirmed his dedication to addressing climate change, labeling it as the most critical issue of our era.
The speaker stated that, despite MAGA Republicans ignoring the seriousness of the climate emergency and putting the American people at risk, their administration will not be inactive. They will not give in to the influence of certain groups.
However, the decision was criticized by Republicans and supporters of the gas industry.
This situation is both a threat to national security and a threat to the environment, according to Senator from Alaska who is a member of the Republican Party.Dan Sullivan
During an interview this week, it was stated that exporting clean-burning natural gas from America to Asian countries helps decrease emissions. It was also mentioned that the pending action is simply an attempt to appease the far left base, which ultimately harms job opportunities, national security, and the environment.
The assessment would delay the approval of approximately 10 projects that have submitted permit applications but have not yet been granted them. These projects also have not made final decisions on whether or not to proceed with construction. One of the affected projects is CP2, a large facility planned by gas exporter Venture Global on the Louisiana coast. However, exports are still projected to increase in the future due to already approved and in-progress projects.
The White House stated that they do not believe the pause on new projects will hinder the transportation of gas to Europe. Climate advisor Ali Zaidi explained that this decision aligns with President Biden’s climate objectives and is consistent with the agreement made by the US and other nations at COP 28 last year.
“We are making this announcement several weeks after the UN climate conference, during which President Biden led the United States in ensuring that the global community recognizes the urgency of transitioning away from fossil fuels. This decision is made while keeping in mind that the United States has consistently supported our European allies.”
The increase in natural gas production has transformed the United States into the top global exporter of this fuel, only eight years after former President Barack Obama began authorizing export permits. This rapid expansion has boosted profits for the industry and positioned the U.S. as a dominant player in the global energy market, effectively weakening Russia’s control over Europe’s gas supply following their invasion of Ukraine.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the export capacity for gas in the United States has increased by over three times since 2018, reaching 12 billion cubic feet per day. It is expected to nearly double again by the year 2030.
told POLITICO Thursday.
The decision by the administration was praised by environmental organizations, who had used LNG exports as a measurement for Biden’s stance on climate issues.
Sara Chieffo, the vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, stated that this is a significant accomplishment that solidifies President Biden’s already impressive track record on climate issues. She believes that this decision benefits families financially and also safeguards communities and the environment, making it a triple win.
Environmental advocates, including activist and writer Bill McKibben, who was instrumental in making the Keystone XL oil pipeline a major issue for Obama, joined forces with organizations like the Sierra Club to push for the suspension. Last year, they began a campaign to halt the export of liquefied natural gas, citing concerns that the industry’s processing methods were causing an increase in methane emissions and exacerbating climate change.
Certain critics have claimed that the export terminals on the Gulf Coast are causing a higher amount of natural gas to be redirected from the domestic market. This could potentially result in increased costs for American electricity consumers and industrial facilities that rely on natural gas, as well as negatively impacting air quality for nearby communities.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 28 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere, although it remains in the air for a far shorter period than CO2.
Maine Independent Sen. Angus King
The individual, who has been advocating for increased examination of the potential impact of expanding gas exports on domestic energy costs, praised the administration’s recent announcement.
King stated that it is important to gather data and ensure that proposed projects do not harm the interests of our citizens before taking action.
The moratorium on the oil industry faced severe criticism from within. The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the biggest oil and gas companies in the US, viewed the ruling as a victory for Russia.
According to API President and CEO Mike Sommers, it is evident that U.S. LNG has numerous advantages in stabilizing global energy markets, creating jobs for Americans, and promoting cleaner fuels worldwide. Sommers also states that the administration’s failure to fulfill its promises to U.S. allies is causing unnecessary political interference with global energy security.
Both oil industry executives and environmental groups compared the new permit moratorium to Biden’s move to cancel permits for the Keystone XL pipeline when he first took office. They called it a politically expedient move by Biden to appease green groups still sour over the administration’s decision to
approve the massive Willow oil project in Alaska last year.
The approval process for LNG permits is equivalent to the contentious Keystone XL pipeline for natural gas, according to Stephen Brown, a former energy lobbyist and current director of the energy consulting firm RBJ Strategies. He believes this decision is a clear example of political manipulation.
Environmental activists and Democratic politicians who oppose the LNG industry remained silent about their concerns as the U.S. increased gas exports to Europe in response to rising fuel costs caused by the conflict in Ukraine. However, once storage tanks in Europe became full and the gas market stabilized, criticisms of the industry resurfaced in late 2020.
The Sierra Club’s Executive Director, Ben Jealous, stated that LNG export projects are not beneficial to the public and believes that if the review is conducted properly, it will put an end to the automatic approval of these projects. He made this statement before the announcement was made.
Progressive Democrats Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Rep. Jared Huffman
In November, a group of over 60 congressional members from California joined together to send a letter to President Biden requesting a reassessment of the environmental and financial effects of exporting LNG.
Environmental organizations also circulated a public letter with the signatures of 60 officials from European governments, urging President Biden and Secretary of Energy Granholm to halt new gas exports.
The European officials expressed concerns about using Europe as a justification for increasing LNG exports. They believe this would harm our global climate and negatively affect communities in the US. The letter also states that Europe’s current use of fossil gas is being met by current import levels and infrastructure.
The Department of Energy, responsible for granting permits for the export of LNG, has never rejected an application thus far. The amount of gas being sent overseas from the U.S. is expected to double to 24 billion cubic feet per day by 2028, which is over 20 percent of total U.S. production. This increase is due to projects that have already been approved and are currently in progress, which will still undergo review by the DOE.
Granholm, John Podesta, the White House clean energy adviser, Zaidi, and Amos Hochstein, the White House energy security adviser, collaborated on forming the decision to conduct the review, according to three individuals familiar with the process.
According to an unauthorized source, the moratorium does not apply to anything currently being built or anything that would have a long-term effect on our exports. It serves as a reminder to limit excessive construction.
This report was contributed to by Josh Siegel.