U.S. LNG export expansion paused

WASHINGTON— The Biden administration announced today [Jan. 26, 2024] it would freeze approvals of new gas export projects, signaling a major pivot in how it considers climate and health harms from oil and gas projects.

The White House is directing the Energy Department to expand its criteria for evaluating new gas exports and take a hard look at the effects on energy costs, energy security and the climate.

The revamp will pause approval of the Calcasieu Pass terminal, or CP2, which would be the largest gas export terminal in the country, and at least 10 other projects awaiting approval along the Gulf Coast.

“Tapping the brakes on CP2 is the best signal yet that the Biden administration is ready to put people and the planet ahead of fossil fuel profiteers,” said Lauren Parker, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “This is a crucial moment to protect future generations by halting the massive U.S. fossil fuel expansion. Now that the administration is listening to frontline communities, youth and climate advocates, it needs to go all in on phasing out fossil fuels. We need a public interest test that denies any fossil fuel expansion that would drive us deeper into climate catastrophe.”

The decision to reevaluate approvals for liquified natural gas, or LNG, expansion comes as United States leads the world in oil and gas production, exports and fossil fuel expansion. A recent Center for Biological Diversity analysis found that fossil fuel projects approved by the Biden administration threaten to erase the climate emissions progress from the Inflation Reduction Act and other climate policies.

At the COP28 climate summit in December, countries agreed for the first time to transition away from fossil fuels. Just after the summit, 170 scientists sent a letter to President Biden urging him to reject CP2 and other proposed facilities in line with that agreement and climate science.

“CP2 and other gas export projects are climate killers that should never be built,” said Shaye Wolf, Ph.D., the Center’s climate science director and among those signing the letter. “New research shows that LNG is even worse for the climate than coal. The Biden administration should listen to the science and protect all of us by halting these fossil fuel monstrosities.”

Oil and gas export facilities expose communities to harmful pollution and chemicals like benzene and nitrogen oxides that cause cancer, heart disease and asthma. The CP2 terminal alone would destroy more than 1,700 acres of irreplaceable wetlands and marshes, threatening critical species.

From accelerating the climate emergency to directly threatening communities and wildlife, the science is clear that new fossil fuel infrastructure projects are contrary to the public interest. The Center has delivered multiple legal petitions to federal agencies outlining the need for public interest criteria that adequately assess climate, public health and environmental justice harms from fossil fuel projects.

For years frontline communities in the Gulf have led the call to halt the dangerous expansion of LNG infrastructure, making it a key issue in the movement to end fossil fuels. Calls to halt CP2 and the expansion of gas exports were part of the March to End Fossil Fuels in September. Organized by the Center and allies, it was the largest U.S. climate mobilization since the COVID pandemic.

Source: “Biden Administration Pauses Massive Gas Export Expansion in Climate Pivot,” a Jan. 26, 2024 Center for Biological Diversity press release.

Corresponding, connected home-page-featured image: Energy Information Administration via Wikimedia Commons