Environmentalists Cheer as Biden Axes Terminals!

Addressing environmental concerns, the Biden administration has decided to halt the approval process for several large liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals along the Gulf Coast, which are crucial for meeting the rising demand for LNG exports to Europe.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm emphasized the need for a comprehensive review of export applications, considering economic, environmental, and national security factors. This pause affects pending applications for U.S. natural gas exports as LNG to non-free trade agreement countries, pending an update to the underlying analyses for authorizations.

The American Petroleum Institute, a key industry trade organization, strongly criticizes Biden’s decision, seeing it as detrimental. A spokesperson expressed concern that this move benefits Russia at the expense of American allies, U.S. jobs, and global climate progress. They argue that U.S. LNG is essential for stabilizing global energy markets, supporting American employment, and reducing emissions worldwide by encouraging the transition to cleaner fuels. The spokesperson accuses the administration of breaking promises to U.S. allies and playing politics with global energy security.

Contrastingly, environmental advocacy groups have shifted their stance on LNG, now claiming it has a negative impact on climate change rather than being a viable alternative to coal or oil.

Exporting LNG overseas presents its own environmental challenges, with studies suggesting it might have a more adverse impact on the environment than coal combustion. Concerns also arise about the expansion of LNG infrastructure potentially exceeding European demand and primarily benefiting global commodity traders over European consumers. These disparities prompt questions about whether the Biden administration will intervene to manage the rapid growth of LNG infrastructure.

While eleven natural gas projects have received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), regulatory clearance may take several years. President Biden appears to be delicately navigating the climate issue, seeking a balance that doesn’t alienate environmentally-conscious younger voters while maintaining support from older voters less favorable to his climate change agenda.