Biden Administration Pauses Louisiana Gas Export Permits, Halting Carbon ‘Mega Bombs’ and Urging Climate Considerations

Hackberry, Louisiana – The Biden administration has temporarily halted the United States’ rapidly increasing exports of gas, a move that has been praised by environmental groups but could potentially jeopardize projects along the Gulf of Mexico coast. This pause on pending export permits for liquified natural gas (LNG) comes as the administration seeks to reevaluate its criteria for approvals, taking into account the impact of climate change. The pause is expected to extend beyond the upcoming presidential election and could have major implications for more than a dozen planned gas export terminals.

Analysis shows that if all proposed LNG projects move forward and ship gas overseas, it could result in a staggering 3.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the entire emissions of the European Union. Climate activists and local residents have been leading a vigorous campaign urging President Biden to curb the expansion of LNG exports, citing their contribution to global heating and the pollution faced by communities residing in close proximity to these projects.

President Biden stated that the pause will enable his administration to thoroughly examine the effects of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security, and the environment. He emphasized the urgent need to address the climate crisis and criticized Republicans who support the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure for failing to acknowledge its severity.

The pause on permits does come with exceptions for “unanticipated and immediate national security emergencies.” Additionally, the White House has assured its European allies that they will continue to receive the gas they require to reduce dependence on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. Nonetheless, activists consider this decision a significant victory that highlights the Biden administration’s commitment to address the climate crisis.

While supporters of the gas industry argue that exports aid European countries, create jobs, and displace coal as a dirtier energy source overseas, several analyses suggest that a substantial amount of the gas does not reach European allies. Furthermore, the surge in gas exports has led to an increase in domestic gas prices for Americans. When considering leaking emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the drilling, transport, and shipping of LNG, it can even be seen as a larger contributor to carbon pollution than coal.

Scientists have repeatedly warned about the severe dangers associated with a new American boom in gas exports, as rising global temperatures pose a threat to the agreed-upon limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times. The Biden administration’s decision to pause LNG export permits is seen as a crucial step, but activists are determined to continue pressuring for even stronger action.

The United States became a gas exporter in 2016 and now holds the title for the largest exporter in the world. The Gulf of Mexico coast has witnessed a surge in new export terminals and pipelines, with plans for a massive facility in Louisiana called Calcasieu Pass 2. If built, it would be one of the world’s largest, shipping 24 million tons of gas annually.

The coalition of oil and gas industry groups has expressed concern, writing to the Biden administration claiming that a pause would bolster Russian influence and jeopardize American jobs. However, the scientific community highlights the urgent need to reduce fossil methane emissions drastically if the world is to address the climate crisis.

As the fight against the LNG boom continues, it remains to be seen how President Biden’s actions will shape the future of gas exports and impact the global response to climate change.