The Biden administration’s decision to delay the approval of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in the United States may have marked a major victory for environmental advocacy groups in both the US and Europe (while effectively punishing Texas – the world’s 3rd largest LNG exporter, for defending the southern border), it was a terrible move for Western interests.
Energy experts are saying that the move benefits America’s enemies and harms the country’s allies.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board called it “an election-year gift to Russia and Iran.“
U.S. LNG exports have increased by about 31 billion cubic feet per month (8.7%) since January 2022, which has helped Europe wean itself off Russian energy and reduced global gas prices. If not for U.S. LNG, political support in Europe for Ukraine might have flagged as its citizens shivered.
A new major Russian LNG export facility is scheduled to come online this year. Iran, the world’s third largest natural-gas producer, has revived construction on an LNG export facility that it aims to complete next year. The U.S. surpassed Qatar last year as the world’s top LNG exporter, but new projects could help Doha regain its lead.
If new U.S. LNG projects are blocked, Europe and Asia will have to import gas from elsewhere to meet their growing demand. Most won’t come from America’s friends. Yet the climate lobby says new LNG projects will lock in higher CO2 emissions for decades. They’re apparently less worried by the 305 coal-fired power plants that China has announced or has in the works.
“There is no review needed to understand the clear benefits of U.S. LNG for stabilizing global energy markets, supporting thousands of American jobs, and reducing emissions around the world by transitioning countries toward cleaner fuels,” American Petroleum Institute (API) CEO Mike Sommers said in a statement, adding “This is nothing more than a broken promise to U.S. allies, and it’s time for the administration to stop playing politics with global energy security.”
Question to the Democrats who support this: Why is Biden supporting Putin by actively hurting our NATO allies?
The vast majority of US LNG exports currently go to Europe. We did this in response to Putin’s war in Ukraine to help Europe wean itself off of Russian natural gas. pic.twitter.com/qybMbC2sFC
— Reddit Lies (@reddit_lies) January 26, 2024
What’s more, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe turned to the United States in its quest to reduce its dependence on Moscow – resulting in a 141% increase in 2022 exports of US LNG over the previous year, and increased modestly in 2023, according to research firm Kpler. Thanks to a combination of those imports and mild winters, Europe has been able to avert winter shortages.
“U.S. LNG exports improve global energy security as U.S. natural gas is becoming Europe’s primary energy supply source replacing Russia,” says Rob Thummel, the senior portfolio manager at Tortoise, in a statement to the Epoch Times.
While the White House has pointed climate activism as inspiring the move, most people with two brain cells to rub together assume it has to do with the administration’s brewing battle with Texas over the southern border.
“This reckless move is nothing more than retaliation against Texas — for standing up to this administration over the border crisis,” said Texas Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham on X.
Texas is the country’s largest natural gas exporter and the third largest in the world!
This reckless move is nothing more than retaliation against Texas — for standing up to this administration over the border crisis. https://t.co/24zvBElJSC
— Dawn Buckingham (@DrBuckinghamTX) January 26, 2024
On Wednesday, Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian wrote a letter of concern to US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, stating that “America becoming energy dominant again – like in 2019 – is the key to restoring global order, and that starts with a strong LNG export industry.”
“I don’t know about President Biden, but I’d much rather have the world buy America’s clean natural gas over gas anywhere else,” the statement continues. “LNG can be a beacon of hope, where many countries no longer produce their own fossil fuels due to the Net Zero agenda. Our energy strategy should be to increase production of our domestic fossil fuels and export that reliable energy to our allies across the globe.”
Even Texas Democrats are opposed – with state Rep. Eddie Morales writing: “While I believe climate change is a pressing issue, we cannot hold ourselves back when our competitors are not willing to do the same despite their overwhelming contributions to global emissions.”
Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick slammed the move as “Reckless. Irresponsible. Unacceptable,” adding that Russia and Qatar are primary beneficiaries of the move, “Not the environment. Not hard-working Americans. Not our allies” (via Texas Scorecard).
Former President Donald Trump slammed the move as well, stating:
Joe Biden has once again caved to the radical demands of the environmental extremists in his administration. This decision to block the approval of new facilities to export American natural gas is one more disastrous self-inflicted wound that will further undermine America’s economic and national security.
While Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Friday that the move “threatens Texas – and America,” calling it “reckless decision.”
Biden’s decision to freeze LNG exports threatens Texas—and America.
This reckless decision is a gut punch to the hard-working men and women in the energy industry.
It also could cause some countries to rely upon dirty coal as opposed to cleaner burning natural gas.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 26, 2024
While European leaders, no strangers to shooting their dicks off, applauded the move as a victory notched in their battle against climate change (“Is climate change in the room with us right now?”), many in Europe are freaking out.
Interruptions of gas supplies from Russia in 2022 contributed to soaring energy prices in Europe, especially for electric power, that hurt businesses and consumers and pushed governments to spend heavily to ease energy bills. Tankers full of liquefied gas from the United States helped mitigate what could have been a dire situation.
Given this history, potential restrictions on gas supplies from the United States would be “a huge concern,” said Fredrik Persson, the president of BusinessEurope, the continent’s largest business group. –NYT
According to Didier Holleaux, president of Eurogas, and industry group, doubts about the stability of LNG supplies from the United States could put plans for new European LNG terminals at risk, “raising concerns of potential further price volatility.”
“In Europe many projects for new LNG import terminals are based on the assumption of stable long-term supply relationships with the US,” Eurogas President Didier Holleaux said in a statement. “If additional US LNG export capacities would not materialise it would risk increasing and prolonging the global supply imbalance” and increase price volatility.
Yet, while this year’s exports may not be affected, analysts have noted that what may unsettle allies is the message that Europe may not be able to count as firmly on US supplies going forward.
“What this really highlights for Europe is, you are running out of options,” said Henning Gloystein, a director for energy and climate change at Eurasia Group, a political risk firm, in a comment to the Times.
Mr. Gloystein said L.N.G. from the United States was particularly attractive for European buyers because the shipping distances from North America are relatively short and the terms that American suppliers provide are much more flexible than those of most other sources. For instance, they usually allow a buyer to easily resell gas, whereas other gas powers like Qatar often impose restrictions. “The U.S. is the one that matters,” he said. -NYT
Back home, the CEO of the American Exploration and Production Council, Anne Bradbury, said “Any action or future plan to hinder American LNG exports, including the White House’s reported pause on CP2, is misguided policy that undermines the US economy, our allies’ security, and global emissions goals.”