More than 150 Republicans take aim at Biden's moratorium on natural gas exports

 : More than 150 House Republicans are calling on President Biden to lift the ban on liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects, arguing the action negatively impacts the energy security of the US and its allies.

Republican lawmakers — led by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and joined by House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik. R-N.Y. — wrote a letter to Biden on Sunday evening, calling on his administration to "expeditiously approve all pending applications to increase the global supply of natural gas."

“This is economically and strategically dangerous and unnecessary,” he wrote in a letter to Biden. "Under both Democratic and Republican administrations, DOE has consistently found that U.S. LNG exports serve the 'public interest' because they provide positive economic benefits and strengthen energy security for the American people, and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. “They also have the potential to reduce emissions.”

"Your administration should make every effort to encourage greater production of clean-burning and reliable natural gas and to grant export permits that allow access to global markets," the letter said.

Late last month, Biden ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) to pause pending permits for LNG export facilities while federal officials conduct a rigorous environmental review assessing the carbon emissions of the projects, which has yet to be completed. It may take more than a year. The action represents a major victory for activists who have loudly called for such a move, even threatening to hold major protests over the issue.

The president said the moratorium on LNG permitting was a part of his broader climate agenda, adding that the action "looks at the climate crisis: the existential threat of our time." He also took aim at "MAGA Republicans" for deliberately denying "the urgency of the climate crisis."

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But, in their letter on Sunday, McMorris Rodgers, Johnson, Scalise, Stefanik and other Republicans said blocking additional LNG export capacity could ultimately give Russia a boost, noting that, in December 2023, US LNG exports More than 87% went to Europe, the UK. , or the Asian market. Following Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, energy experts argued that LNG exports would be critical in helping U.S. allies get rid of Russian gas.

“Actions that slow or prevent the ability to export U.S. LNG would undermine global energy security and jeopardize these strategic markets,” the lawmakers wrote. “Such actions would undermine our efforts to help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian energy.”

And they further argued that halting LNG export growth risks increasing U.S. energy prices, increasing global greenhouse gas emissions, and harming the U.S. economy. The letter points to research showing that LNG exports could add up to $73 billion to the US economy by 2040, create more than 453,000 US jobs and increase US purchasing power by $30 billion.
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Meanwhile, the letter comes days before Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans plan to hold a hearing to examine the potential impacts of the LNG export halt.

Additionally, Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Tim Scott, R-S.C. Led a group of 16 senators last week in introducing the Unlocking Domestic LNG Potential Act, which would strip DOE of having the final say on LNG export projects, instead of requiring approval. Decisions with the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Companion legislation was introduced a day later by Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, and is expected to receive a floor vote this month.

While it is unclear which proposed projects will be affected by the action, a senior administration official said at least two have large capacity and two have small capacity. Another official said the moratorium implemented Friday would only affect projects that have gone through FERC's lengthy approval process and are ready for DOE approval.

According to federal data updated last week, there are 11 projects that have been given the green light by FERC but are not yet under construction. An additional four projects are pending before FERC and two are in the pre-filing stage. Those six projects will not be affected by this moratorium because they are not yet before DOE, but they will be affected if they are approved by FERC.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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