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Biden Halts Approval of LNG Exports Following Climate Activist Demands

President Joe Biden has announced a temporary halt on approvals for both pending and future liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects.

This decision has been met with applause from climate activists and could push back decisions on new LNG facilities until after the upcoming November 5 election.

Department of Energy’s Review Process

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The Department of Energy (DOE) will use this pause to conduct a thorough review focusing on the economic and environmental impacts of LNG export projects.

This review aims to assess the implications of exporting LNG to regions like Europe and Asia, where demand for the fuel is high.

Timeline for Review and Public Comment

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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has indicated that the review process will span several months, followed by a period for public comments.

This extended timeline suggests that final decisions on LNG projects may be significantly delayed.

Biden’s Statement on the Pause

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President Biden emphasized the importance of this pause, stating it will allow for a detailed examination of LNG exports’ effects on energy costs, U.S. energy security, and the environment.

He described the climate crisis as the “existential threat of our time.”

Exemption for National Security

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The administration has assured that the pause will not negatively impact U.S. allies, thanks to an exemption for national security emergencies.

This provision ensures that allies can still receive LNG if urgent needs arise.

European Reliance on U.S. LNG

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European countries, seeking to reduce their dependence on Russian gas, rely heavily on LNG imports from the U.S.

The pause has raised concerns about the stability of LNG supplies, although the European Commission has downplayed immediate impacts.

Opposition from Trump’s Camp

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Karoline Leavitt, a spokesperson for former President Donald Trump, criticized Biden’s decision. She argued that the pause is a “self-inflicted wound” that could jeopardize America’s economic and national security.

Growth of U.S. LNG Export Capacity

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Since the last review of LNG export projects in 2018, U.S. export capacity has tripled.

With several projects under construction, this capacity is expected to increase further, sparking protests from environmentalists and youth groups.

Environmental and Community Concerns

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Activists argue that new LNG projects could harm local communities with pollution, perpetuate global dependence on fossil fuels, and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

The pause has been hailed as a significant victory by environmental groups.

Political Implications for Biden

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The Sunrise Movement’s political director, Michelle Weindling, believes the pause could bolster Biden’s support among young voters.

Demonstrating bold leadership on climate issues is seen as crucial for securing their backing in the November election.

Industry Opposition to Unrestricted Exports

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Various sectors of U.S. industry, including chemicals and agriculture, oppose unrestricted LNG exports.

They argue that such exports could lead to higher fuel prices and affect the reliability of domestic energy supplies.

Projects Affected by the Pause

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The pause will impact four projects with pending DOE export approvals, potentially including ventures by Sempra Infrastructure, Commonwealth LNG, and Energy Transfer.

These companies are navigating the implications of the pause on their projects.

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