In a statement, the White House announced that the Department of Energy is blocking the export permits for liquefied natural gas (LNG) until the climate impact of these exports is assessed. Here is the statement:
My administration is announcing today a temporary pause on pending decisions on liquefied natural gas exports, with the exception of unanticipated and immediate national security emergencies. During this period, we will take a hard look at the impacts of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security, and our environment. This pause on new LNG approvals sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time.
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. 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. And as America has always done, we will turn crisis into opportunity—creating clean energy jobs, improving quality of life, and building a more hopeful future for our children.
Why this decision now, at a time when Europe is heavily dependent on U.S. liquefied natural gas exports after cutting off supplies from Russia? According to the New York Times, prior to the decision, Biden’s team met with Alex Haraus, a 25-year-old social media influencer from Colorado who has been campaigning on social media against LNG projects in the Gulf of Mexico.
As a reminder, in 2023, U.S. seaborne crude oil exports averaged 4 million b/d, an all-time high and a 19 percent increase over the previous year, and being oil, this export will not be affected by sanctions.
The U.S. has pushed many countries to break energy relations with Russia and has thus substituted itself for supplies. 67% of U.S. LNG right now goes to the UK and Europe. There are five countries: Spain, the U.K., the Netherlands, France, and Germany, which together make up 50 percent of U.S. exports. Now there will be no additional quantities, at least until Biden has to please the climate warriors.
So far, there has been no spillover effect on prices; in fact, there has been a collapse in the U.S. market. Reserves are high in the EU, and several international companies, with ENI in the lead, have sought supplies elsewhere, while Norway and Qatar are ready to supply at adequate prices and long-term contracts. Of course, Biden’s decision will not reduce CO2 emissions by an ounce; in fact, methane emissions, with a much higher greenhouse effect than CO2, will probably increase, while financial flows will go to other countries than the US. The green demagoguery will be satisfied, though.
Trump will not lose a vote; in fact, he will gain a few.