Home News Biden should not hit the brakes on liquified natural gas exports.

Biden should not hit the brakes on liquified natural gas exports.

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Biden should not hit the brakes on liquified natural gas exports.

North America’s amazing energy boom has been a huge plus for U.S. domestic security over the past decade. Thanks to the rise of shale fracking and other game-changing technologies, the U.S. and Canada have produced more oil and gas than ever before, reducing the need for imports while breathing life into export markets.

This oil-and-gas bonanza came just in time to help American allies in Europe support sanctions against Russian fossil fuels imposed after the 2022 attack on Ukraine. America has become the world’s No. 1 exporter of liquified natural gas, or LNG, and export demand for this important fuel is projected to double by the end of the decade.

The immediate benefits go beyond creating jobs and expanding the economy. Given how the LNG export market serves U.S. interests by helping American allies keep the lights on while punishing Russia for its aggression, you’d think President Joe Biden would be content to take the win and leave well enough alone. No such luck.

At the end of January, the Biden administration hit the brakes on LNG exports, announcing a “temporary pause” on federal authorizations for shipping gas to Europe and other strategically important destinations. The main effect is to halt construction of new export facilities that were in various stages of planning. No company can proceed with these multiyear projects now that the Feds have pledged to withhold the licenses for them until further notice.

In its announcement, the administration claimed that it needs time to assess the health impact of new export facilities on people living in their vicinity. It also cited the potential for increased costs to American consumers if more gas is shipped offshore, and it bemoaned the “perilous” environmental impacts of methane, which is the No. 1 ingredient in the natural gas used in furnaces, stoves and power plants.

There’s no mystery about any of those questions, however. Living near petroleum facilities does indeed expose people to the risk of pollution. The price of gas has been driven down by the current glut and probably would increase over time if more were shipped abroad. As for methane, it is well known to be a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and climate change.

So, if all the administration wanted was answers, well, those are the facts and it’s hardly a revelation that the petroleum industry is dirty but necessary, at least for now. Unsurprisingly, given today’s politics, there is an unstated agenda.

It’s no coincidence that Biden’s LNG decision comes at the start of an election year, and the only good reason for it is to shore up Biden’s support among hard-core environmentalists. Predictably, the greenest Democrats applauded the move against LNG exports, attacking natural gas as a planet killer while conveniently ignoring its essential role in replacing coal, which is dirtier to produce and far worse for the environment when burned.

In a perfectly green world, there would be no need for fossil fuels of any kind. In real life, it will take decades to make the transition to cleaner energy, and LNG is widely viewed as the best practical bridge to a future less dependent on the dirtiest fuels.

By attacking LNG, Biden is feeding the fantasies of the same people who think driving a Prius, recycling their kombucha bottles and banning plastic grocery bags at their local stores will single-handedly save the planet. It’s beyond frustrating to hear far-left nature lovers who oppose nuclear power and demonize natural gas then going on to applaud policies that put extreme new demands on the electrical grid.

Where will the juice come from to power the electric vehicles that environmentalists want so badly? Or to support the build-out of data centers and other technologies that require huge amounts of electricity?

More than 80% of the world’s energy today comes from hydrocarbons. While Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act will help to reduce that dependence, its impact will be felt only over a period of years. Meantime, demand for energy keeps increasing, and the preferred forms of “green” power, namely wind and solar, can’t be scaled up fast enough to meet the need.

For Biden’s political opponents, the LNG policy is a good example of why a change at the top is needed. Speaking at the recent Futures Industry Association conference in Florida, Mike Sommers, head of the American Petroleum Institute, put it bluntly: “I cannot think of a worse policy decision. It needs to be reversed as soon as possible. Natural gas is the transition.”

At the same conference, Citadel founder (and former Illinoisan) Ken Griffin was even more emphatic about the Biden LNG policy: “What did we say to the world? Keep burning coal. It’s absolutely mind-blowing to me.”

We think Sommers and Griffin are correct on this issue.

Biden’s sop to the far-left not only is self-defeating from an environmental standpoint, but it’s a convenient gift to Vladimir Putin’s Russia on the diplomatic front.

This roadblock to progress, this impediment to a thoughtful global transition, needs to be dropped today.

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