Just when you might have imagined — hoped — that Biden administration carbon-climate obsessed energy policies couldn’t get any wackier, witness a plan to institute a pause on every new and pending permit for U.S. export terminals which supply liquified natural gas to European and other allies to increase their dependencies on higher CO2-emitting coal.
Add to this, the de facto “ban” will pose inescapable economic penalties and national security risks as allies turn to adversaries for natural gas and other vital energy supplies.
Citing growing concerns over “public interests” including climate and economic impacts, the Department of Energy announced plans in January to “temporarily” stop approving LNG exports to countries that don’t have a free-trade agreement with the U.S.
The Natural Gas Act (NGA) requires DOE to approve LNG export applications to Free Trade Agreement nations unless the agency makes such a nonpublic-interest determination and up to now, has never rejected an export permit on that basis.
Attorneys general from 23 Republican states are preparing legal challenges to DOE’s public interest rationale, accusing the Biden administration of ushering in a “surprise freeze” that bows to the pressure of young climate activists, harms the economy and jeopardizes national security.
On the latter international issue, they point out that Europeans were "desperately seeking American energy to counter Russia's weaponization of its natural gas exports."
Included are Kansas, Indiana, Louisiana, West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Together, they addressed a Feb. 6 letter to President Biden and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm arguing that the statute was based on a 1982 U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling which they quote “creates a ‘general presumption of favoring [export] authorization.’”
The letter invokes a legal theory termed the “major questions” doctrine which asserts that Congress must clearly authorize federal agencies to tackle politically and economically important issues.
Here, they insist, Congress has not authorized DOE to issue “blanket denials” of export permits based primarily upon a Biden climate executive order.
The states also charge that the pause violates notice-and-comments requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act along with its protections against unreasonable regulatory delays.
“Instead of addressing America’s real energy challenges,” the AGs wrote, “your administration has decided to double down on a reckless environmental agenda through this TikTok-inspired pause.’”
“In short,” the letter emphasizes, “you are reconstructing the NGA’s regulatory structures.”
Led by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, more than 150 Republicans also sent a letter urging President Biden to end his de facto LNG export ban and “expeditiously approve all pending applications to increase the global supply of natural gas.”
The letter points out:
“Under both Democratic and Republican administrations, DOE has consistently found that U.S. LNG exports serve the ‘public interest’ because they contribute positive economic benefits and strengthen energy security for the American people and also have the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”
Negative U.S. economic impacts of the ban will be substantial, with each cancelled LNG project costing about $600 billion in lost revenue over its planned lifespan along with thousands of jobs … including those in steel manufacturing and fracking.
Last year, America exported more LNG than any other country, with shipments projected to double by the end of this decade pending fully approved projects.
Flashback here to Biden’s first day in the Oval Office when he nixed the Keystone XL pipeline along with tens of thousands of potential U.S. jobs which sought to transfer crude oil from Alberta, Canada.
Whereas the White House claims the pause will affect only a handful of current DOE LNG export applications, it disingenuously avoids noting that it will also freeze about a half a dozen projects seeking Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approvals and could halt another dozen or so that have been permitted by previous presidents.
And since DOE announced that projects not yet operating within seven years following authorization must reapply for permits, these initiatives in development could get deep-sixed after having committed billions of dollars in capital and contractual customer agreements.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups have urged 15 global financial firms, including Bank of America and JP Morgan, to halt support for LNG exports.
As climate activists applaud the Biden administration’s crusade to save the planet from essential CO2 plant food, we can also bet that Russian and Iran oligarchs are giddy about increased opportunities to supply oil and gas to finance their wars in Ukraine and the Middle East at prices they control, following Biden releases of Trump administration sanctions.
Ironically, Europeans are planning to retire coal and nuclear plants in the coming years on the expectation that they will have ample LNG from the U.S.
This as China continues to import vast amounts of Russian, Iranian and Middle East oil and gas in combination with constructing the equivalence of about one new coal-fired plant weekly to fuel its economy.
To be clear, there’s nothing inherently bad about burning coal provided that proper environmental safeguards scrub dirty polluting particulate matter from the plant stacks as appropriately required by EPA and true public interest.
The problem — a big one — is that China doesn’t do so.
Accordingly, the Biden ban on LNG premised upon hysterically hyped CO2 reduction climate benefits is an internally contradictory argument based on Bad Science (BS).
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 12 books is "Architectures Beyond Boxes and Boundaries: My Life By Design" (2022). Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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