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Biden LNG Pause Pits National Security, U.S. Allies vs. Green Activists

Total Views: 1650
February 1, 2024

Immigration and inflation are not the only significant issues in this election. There is also the matter of energy and environmental policies and how decisions in those areas affect Americans and U.S. allies.

Industry groups and environmentalists are divided over President Biden’s decision to pause consideration of new natural gas export terminals. The stated reason for the delay involves climate change, something Biden has called “the ultimate threat to humanity.”

“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,’’ the president said in a statement January 27. “We will not cede to special interests. We will heed the calls of young people and frontline communities who are using their voices to demand action from those with the power to act.’’

Pointing the finger at the Department of Energy, Biden said its evaluation of LNG projects does not correctly account for potential cost increases for American consumers and manufacturers or the effect of greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmentalist Bill McKibben wrote an online response, calling it a “very savvy” decision to attract young voters upset with Biden’s approval of the Willow oil project in Alaska. “Biden wants young people, who care about climate above all, in his corner,” McKibben wrote.

Critics of Willow have referred to it as a “carbon bomb,” and according to McKibben, the Calcasieu Pass 2 liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal project in Louisiana would produce about 20 times more greenhouse gas emissions than Willow, a ConocoPhillips Project.

The Green Party agrees and urges the administration to halt permanently LNG and other new fossil fuel infrastructure.

“When it comes to dealing with the fires of climate change, the Democrats respond by throwing more money onto it while Trump and the GOP dump gasoline to spark it up,” Green Party co-chair Joey Naham said in a press release. “Biden needs to listen to the warnings of the U.N. secretary-general, who has declared that the slow climate action by governments, starting with the U.S., has resulted in the opening of the gates of Hell.”

But LNG produces 40 percent less carbon dioxide than coal and 30 percent less than oil, good enough for National Grid Group to call LNG the cleanest of the fossil fuels.

That is one reason Dan Kish, a distinguished senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, says there is no climate risk. He adds the United States produces more natural gas with less environmental impact than any other place on Earth. Based on that, if Biden aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Kish said he is “missing the tanker in front of him.”

“When it comes to the green, climate TikTok people, Biden seems to care more about them than the American public or our NATO allies,” Kish said.

Speaking of NATO allies, in 2022, Biden pledged to provide Europe with additional U.S. LNG volumes to ease concerns about energy supplies after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. American Petroleum Institute hailed the decision and pointed to an analysis showing it could amount to $63 billion in capital expenditures, an increase of $46 billion in gross domestic product, and nearly 72,000 jobs annually from 2025 to 2030. As for concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, API said the United States has been a global leader in emissions reductions due in part to the switch from coal to natural gas-fired utilities.

“Our nation’s abundant supply of natural gas is an impactful geopolitical tool, helping insulate American consumers from increasing global instability while advancing American national interests and ensuring the energy security of key U.S. allies,” API wrote to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Friday.

Other industry groups, such as the American Exploration and Production Council, Center for LNG, Independent Petroleum Association of America and LNG Allies, were also involved in the letter.

“Moving forward with a pause on new U.S. LNG export approvals would only bolster Russian influence and undercut President Biden’s own commitment to supply our allies with reliable energy, undermining American credibility and threatening American jobs,” the groups wrote.

The pause will not affect any natural gas export projects that have already been authorized. Meanwhile, Biden mentioned an “exception of unanticipated and immediate national security emergencies.” Granholm backed Biden up on that in a White House briefing.

“We remain committed to ensuring our partners’ medium-term energy needs are met,’’ she said, adding the Energy Department can allow exceptions for national security needs.

Still, Kish said Biden has already gone back on his word.

“And it’s more than just his word; it is the national security of our allies,” Kish said. “They rely on this for their economy, to keep the lights on and to keep people comfortable.”

According to the Department of Energy, the United States has exported almost 2,400 billion cubic feet of natural gas in large LNG tanker ships, and a small quantity shipped by container or in trucks. By August 2021, U.S. LNG has been delivered to 40 countries on five continents.

Chris Woodward writes about industry and technology for InsideSources. Copyright 2020 © InsideSources, LLC  

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