Home » Biden Hits Brakes On Gas Projects Amid Surge In U.S. Exports

Biden Hits Brakes On Gas Projects Amid Surge In U.S. Exports

President Joe Biden on Friday temporarily paused approval of new liquefied natural gas export projects, pending a thorough analysis of how shipments will impact global climate change.

The move, which follows a growing pressure campaign from climate activists, effectively freezes nearly a dozen LNG export projects currently in the pipeline, including the $10 billion Calcasieu Pass 2, or CP2, project on Louisiana’s coast. If built, CP2 would be one of the largest LNG export facilities on the planet.

In a statement announcing the decision, Biden said that the pause “sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time,” and allows his administration to “take a hard look at the impacts of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security, and our environment.”

“While MAGA Republicans willfully deny the urgency of the climate crisis, condemning the American people to a dangerous future, my Administration will not be complacent,” he said, referring to supporters of former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement. “We will not cede to special interests.”

The U.S. is the largest exporter of LNG, a planet-warming fossil fuel that a recent study from Cornell University determined has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than burning coal.

Environmentalists, many of whom have argued that Biden hasn’t acted aggressively enough to curb planet-warming emissions, hailed Friday’s announcement as a monumental victory for the climate and front-line communities along the Gulf Coast most impacted by the rapid build-out of gas infrastructure.

“I’m thankful for this pause in granting gas export licenses; the [Department of Energy] has finally heard the wake-up call,” James Hiatt, the director of For a Better Bayou, an environmental justice organization in southern Louisiana, said in a statement.

“The gas industry was planning to inundate my hometown with LNG terminals. These gas export terminals, like CP2, are not just an environmental threat; they’re an economic burden on American families.”

Many argued that the Biden administration must go further and permanently block new facilities from being built.

“Given the massive volume of LNG currently being exported, and the numerous additional projects already approved and set to come online in coming years, anything less than a permanent halt to further expansion of this deadly industry is unacceptable,” Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement. “Hopefully this pause represents the beginning of the end of fossil fuel exports in America.”

The American Petroleum Institute, the main trade association for the U.S. oil and gas sector, condemned the pause as “a win for Russia and a loss for American allies” that are importing U.S. gas.

“This is nothing more than a broken promise to U.S. allies, and it’s time for the administration to stop playing politics with global energy security,” API President and CEO Mike Sommers said. “The announcement undercuts President Biden’s own pledge to send increased U.S. LNG supplies to our allies overseas to help end dependence on Russian gas.”

The White House emphasized that Friday’s move will not impact the United States’ ability to supply Europe with LNG in the short term and that the U.S. “remains unwavering in our commitment to supporting our allies around the world.” The pause “is subject to exception for unanticipated and immediate national security emergencies,” it said.

In an interview with NPR on Friday morning, Ali Zaidi, the White House national climate adviser, dismissed the idea that the LNG pause has anything to do with polling that shows a majority of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of climate change.

“This decision flows very clearly from the president’s incredibly strong leadership on climate change, which has been front and center from Day 1,” Zaidi told NPR.

“This is the next step in a presidency where the president, very clearly from Day 1, has been unafraid to follow the facts, dedicated to following the science and front-line communities, and has had a very strong commitment to taking climate action,” he added.


January 2024