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Biden reportedly jams brakes on massive energy projects over climate impacts

The White House has ordered the Department of Energy to conduct a climate change analysis for key gas projects that would supply energy to allies worldwide.

The White House has intervened in the permitting process for 17 large natural gas projects, ordering additional climate impact analyses after activists called on the administration to nix the projects, the New York Times reported.

In a move environmentalists have demanded in recent months, the White House is ordering the Department of Energy (DOE) to consider the impact proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal projects would have on climate change, three individuals with knowledge of internal deliberations told the New York Times. DOE has never before rejected a gas export application on climate grounds.

"It appears that individuals within the White House are trying to force policymaking through leaks to the media. This continues to create uncertainty about whether our allies can rely on US LNG for their energy security," Shaylyn Hynes, a spokesperson for energy developer Venture Global, said in a statement. "If this leaked report from anonymous White House sources is true, it appears the Administration may be putting a moratorium on the entire U.S. LNG industry."

"Such an action would shock the global energy market, having the impact of an economic sanction, and send a devastating signal to our allies that they can no longer rely on the United States," Hynes added. "The true irony is this policy would hurt the climate and lead to increased emissions as it would force the world to pivot to coal."

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The White House declined to comment on the report and the DOE didn't respond to a request for comment.

Among the projects that would be impacted by the DOE's review is the so-called Calcasieu Pass 2 (CP2) project, a proposed $10 billion LNG terminal located on a 546-acre site in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, which would be the largest export terminal of its kind in the nation. 

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According to Venture Global, the facility would have a nameplate export capacity of 20 million metric tonnes per annum (MTPA) of LNG and a peak capacity of about 24 MTPA. In 2023, the U.S. exported 88.9 MT of LNG, according to a FOX Business analysis of tanker tracking data, meaning the CP2 facility would alone increase exports by a staggering 23%.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers and fossil fuel industry associations have called for the Biden administration to expeditiously approve pending LNG export terminals, arguing they are key for strengthening the U.S. economy and supporting the energy security of allies in Europe and Asia amid geopolitical turmoil.

"The longer the Biden administration drags its feet on approving new paths for America to develop and supply its allies with clean natural gas, the more this White House empowers our enemies in China and Russia — and the more the American people pay higher energy prices," Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, told Fox News Digital in a statement.

"Our economy and national security can’t afford for President Biden to stay beholden to climate fanatics who are happy to see our country sacrifice jobs and energy independence for nothing," Kennedy said.

Fellow Republican Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy argued during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing this month that LNG export facilities in the U.S. would have an "overwhelmingly" lower carbon footprint than the alternative of coal-fired power generation in foreign nations.

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"This is war on our allies," Cassidy told Fox News Digital. "They depend upon us for their energy and economic security. For apparently political purposes, the Biden administration is deliberately postponing permitting. Putin must have designed this strategy."

And Marty Durbin, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute, echoed those comments on Wednesday, saying U.S. LNG plays an "essential role in displacing dirtier Russian gas" that Europe remains reliant on. "Any move to restrict or delay our ability to meet our commitments to our allies is deeply disturbing," he said.

Earlier this month, international energy organizations Eurogas and the Asia Natural Gas & Energy Association (ANGEA) issued strong statements of support for continued permitting of U.S. LNG export terminals. Eurogas said such exports were critical for ensuring the full phase down of Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas, while ANGEA added U.S. LNG is needed to meet Asia's decarbonization goals.

However, LNG export terminals have been opposed by Democrats and environmentalists who argue they would create harmful pollution and contribute to global warming. The issue has led to activists posting videos on social media which, over the last two months, have generated tens of millions of views. 

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Additionally, in December, dozens of environmental groups wrote to DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm, imploring her to reject the CP2 project "for the sake of our climate and communities." Days later, 170 scientists penned a letter to President Biden, asking him to determine CP2 is not in the public interest and to reject it and other pending LNG facilities.

"Putting a stop to expanded gas exports is one of the most important moves President Biden could make on addressing the climate crisis. It would mark a bold and historic decision and a major win for communities and advocates that have long spoken out about the dangers of LNG," Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous said Wednesday. 

"These facilities pollute our communities, make energy more expensive for American families, and exacerbate the climate crisis all for the sake of more gas the world does not need," he continued. "Our movement will not give up, and we will keep working to ensure that this reported groundbreaking step will lead to meaningful change."

Further, climate activist Bill McKibben announced he was organizing a civil disobedience protest outside the Department of Energy's headquarters in Washington, D.C., over the permitting of new LNG export terminals. He said the action would mimic the protests that helped nationalize the Keystone XL pipeline fight during the Obama administration.

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