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Environmentalists Triumph as White House Puts Major Natural Gas Projects on Hold

The White House has initiated a groundbreaking halt on the permitting process for several proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal projects.

This decision stems from concerns about their potential impact on climate change.

Joint Announcement

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In a joint announcement, the White House and the Department of Energy (DOE) declared the pause.

They cited the necessity of conducting an extensive environmental review to assess the projects’ carbon emissions.

Environmental Review Timeline

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The review, focusing on the carbon footprint of these projects, is expected to take over a year.

This move comes as a response to the intensifying critique from climate activists regarding the rise in emissions from these projects.

Energy Secretary’s Statement

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Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm highlighted the importance of a comprehensive review.

She stated, “As our exports increase, we must review export applications using the most comprehensive up-to-date analysis.”

Granholm on Energy and Climate

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Granholm continued, emphasizing the administration’s commitment to affordable energy, economic opportunities, and climate protection.

“We are committed to strengthening energy security here in the U.S. and with our allies,” she added.

The Affected Projects

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Details on the specific projects affected remain unclear.

However, an administration official indicated that at least four projects, two large and two small, are included in this pause.

Status of Projects

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Currently, there are 11 FERC-approved projects awaiting construction.

Additionally, six more projects are in various stages of approval but are not yet before the DOE.

White House Climate Czar’s Remarks

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Ali Zaidi, the White House climate czar, spoke about the administration’s consistent focus on frontline communities and allies in the fight against climate change.

“That’s how Joe Biden leads on climate change,” he stated.

Global Context of the Decision

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Zaidi further contextualized the decision, referring to recent U.N. climate conferences.

He highlighted the global need to transition away from fossil fuels under Biden’s leadership.

Opposition to LNG Terminals

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Environmentalists and Democrats have opposed LNG export terminals for causing pollution and global warming.

These concerns have led to widespread social media campaigns and public appeals to halt LNG development.

Protests and Letters

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Activist Bill McKibben is organizing protests similar to those against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Environmental groups and scientists have also written to the administration, urging them to reject LNG projects.

Counterarguments from LNG Proponents

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Supporters argue these projects are vital for global energy needs, especially in reducing dependence on Russian natural gas.

Neil Chatterjee criticized the pause, calling it a mix of bad policy and politics.

International and Industry Reactions

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International bodies like Eurogas and ANGEA support U.S. LNG exports for decarbonization goals.

The American Petroleum Institute, however, has criticized the decision, citing broken promises to allies.

The Argument for LNG Exports

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Proponents believe LNG exports are crucial for global decarbonization.

They argue that without LNG, the reliance on coal-fired power generation, which is more polluting, would increase.

Balancing Environmental Goals with Global Energy Demands

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The pause in LNG export terminal permitting by the White House highlights its commitment to environmental concerns.

This decision, however, raises pivotal questions about balancing these concerns with fulfilling global energy needs and maintaining international commitments.

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