FIRST ON FOX: Senate Republicans introduced legislation Wednesday that would prevent the Biden administration from moving forward with its moratorium on liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permits.
The Unlocking Domestic LNG Potential Act — authored by Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Tim Scott, R-S.C., and cosponsored by 16 fellow Senate Republicans — seeks to “depoliticize” LNG exports by eliminating the Department of Energy’s (DOE) authority to green-light such permits. The effort comes days after the White House and DOE paused permits for LNG export terminals over their potential climate impacts.
“President Biden’s move to halt American energy exports is pure politics,” Scott said in a statement Wednesday. “In fact, exporting U.S. natural gas would actually lower global emissions.”
“President Biden is dead set on bowing to the far-left and making the U.S. and our allies more reliant on foreign adversaries like Russia,” he continued. “Instead, I’m fighting to unleash America’s abundant natural resources, bolster our energy independence and safeguard our national security.”
Scott’s bill would amend the Natural Gas Act of 1938, giving the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) exclusive authority to approve or deny applications for the siting, construction, expansion or operation of LNG export projects. And in approving or rejecting permits, FERC would be required to “deem the importation or exportation of natural gas to be consistent with the public interest.”
The cosponsors of the bill are GOP Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, James Risch of Idaho, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, Joni Ernst of Iowa, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Rick Scott of Florida, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ted Budd of North Carolina, Katie Britt of Alabama, John Thune of South Dakota, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and John Kennedy of Louisiana.
On Friday, President Biden ordered the DOE to pause pending permits for LNG export facilities while federal officials conduct a rigorous environmental review assessing the projects’ carbon emissions, which could take more than a year to complete. The move is a major victory for eco activists who have loudly called for such a move, even threatening to hold large protests over the issue.
In a statement Friday, the president said the pause on LNG permitting was a part of his sweeping climate agenda, saying the action “sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time.” He also took aim at “MAGA Republicans” for willfully denying the “urgency of the climate crisis.”
However, energy experts and Republicans have argued that LNG exports are critical for maintaining low energy prices in the U.S., helping American allies to wean off Russian gas and decrease global carbon emissions.
“It is an act of economic hostility to withhold U.S. LNG supply from the allies we have promised it to, particularly in the midst of ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Europe,” said former Energy Secretary Rick Perry. “The Biden moratorium on LNG permits will empower Putin while killing jobs in Pennsylvania. It will hamstring American national security by forcing our allies back to Russia and Qatar for their energy supply.”
“It will also result in an increase in emissions by withholding the most effective tool we have to improve the climate,” Perry continued. “It is a grave mistake for President Biden to reverse course and bow to the elite environmental lobby who do not represent the best interests of the American people and our allies overseas.”
While it is unclear which proposed projects the action will affect, a senior administration official said at least two have a larger capacity and two have a smaller capacity. Another official added that the pause implemented Friday will only impact projects that have gone through FERC’s lengthy approval process and are ripe for DOE approval.
According to federal data updated last week, there are 11 projects that have been green-lit 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 wouldn’t be impacted by the pause since they are not before DOE yet, but would be impacted if approved by FERC.