Biden hits the brakes on controversial gas export projects

By Shannon Kelleher

The Biden administration will temporarily pause pending applications for facilities that export natural gas, citing climate change considerations, the White House announced Friday.

The announcement, which comes after heavy pushback from environmental groups and affected communities along the Gulf, will put the brakes on eight new export terminals while the Department of Energy (DOE) reviews its approval process, including how to account for the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. The pause will not affect liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminals that are already operating.

“Today, we have an evolving understanding of the market need for LNG, the long-term supply of LNG, and the perilous impacts of methane on our planet,” said the White House in a statement. “We also must adequately guard against risks to the health of our communities, especially frontline communities in the United States who disproportionately shoulder the burden of pollution from new export facilities.”

“The pause, which is subject to exception for unanticipated and immediate national security emergencies, will provide the time to integrate these critical considerations,” the White House statement said.

LNG is made of methane, a potent contributor to climate change. While industry groups have called LNG “the cleanest of the fossil fuels,” new research from Cornell currently undergoing peer review suggests its total greenhouse gas emissions are higher than those from coal.