Responding to environmentalists’ concerns, the Biden administration is pausing the approval process for multiple large liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals planned along the Gulf Coast. These terminals play a vital role in addressing the growing need for LNG exports to Europe.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said, “As our exports increase, we must review export applications using the most comprehensive, up-to-date analysis of the economic, environmental, and national security considerations. This action includes a pause on pending applications for exports of U.S. natural gas as LNG to non-free trade agreement countries until the department can update the underlying analyses for authorizations.”
The American Petroleum Institute, the leading trade organization for the industry, views Biden’s decision as extremely detrimental. A spokesperson said, “This is a win for Russia and a loss for American allies, U.S. jobs and global climate progress. There is no review needed to understand the clear benefits of U.S. LNG for stabilizing global energy markets, supporting thousands of American jobs, and reducing emissions around the world by transitioning countries toward cleaner fuels. 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.”
However, the environmental advocacy groups have reversed their stance on LNG. Instead of promoting natural gas as a viable alternative to coal or oil, they have now shifted their position and argue that LNG has a detrimental impact on climate change.
The Biden administration is delaying consideration of new natural gas export terminals in the United States, even as gas shipments to Europe and Asia have soared since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. https://t.co/RwVhbCH9k7
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 26, 2024
Exporting LNG overseas may pose its own environmental challenges, raising concerns about its questionable benefits. Recent studies have indicated that it could have a more adverse impact on the environment than coal combustion. Additionally, there are reports suggesting that the expansion of LNG infrastructure may exceed future European demand and primarily benefit global commodity traders rather than European consumers. These discrepancies have led to questions about whether the Biden administration would intervene to curtail the rapid growth of LNG infrastructure.
Eleven natural gas projects have received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), although it may take several years for them to gain regulatory clearance. President Biden appears to be attempting a delicate balancing act on the climate issue, aiming not to alienate younger environmentally-conscious voters while also retaining the support of older voters who may not view his climate change agenda favorably.