Senate GOP calls on Biden administration to stop U.S. LNG exports pause

U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and 24 of their Republican colleagues urged the Biden administration to end its “shortsighted” pause on all new or pending applications to export liquified natural gas (LNG) to non-Free Trade Agreement countries.

The White House announced on Jan. 26 that the pause is needed until the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) can update the underlying analyses for authorizations. DOE now plans to initiate a process to update the assessments used to inform whether additional LNG export authorization requests to non-Free Trade Agreement countries are in the public interest. 

“We write to express deep concerns with the DOE review of criteria necessary to approve permits for LNG export projects and the potential pause to all pending non-FTA export permit applications,” wrote the Senate Republicans in a Jan. 26 letter sent to President Joe Biden and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

“This ‘LNG Plan’ drafted without input from Congress could have significant economic, environmental, and national security consequences domestically and globally,” the senators wrote. “It would be reckless to jeopardize our advantage, especially in a world where energy is frequently being used as a geopolitical weapon.”

The lawmakers pointed out that U.S. LNG exports have served as a “vital lifeline” for countries in Europe and across the globe.

“When European imports of LNG increased by 60 percent in 2022, U.S. LNG met that demand,” they wrote. “Without U.S. LNG exports, European leaders would have to decide between depriving their own citizens of energy or actively funding Russia’s war on Ukraine.”

The lawmakers also noted that American LNG exports have enhanced America’s geopolitical influence and international energy security across the board since 2016, are uniquely suited to decrease global emissions, and provide significant economic benefits across the country, according to their letter.

“Limiting U.S. LNG exports does not have any impact on the world’s demand for natural gas. Instead, countries including Russia and Iran will simply produce more energy that is subject to less stringent environmental regulations,” wrote the senators. “As a result, limiting American LNG exports in the name of stopping climate change could do just the opposite and add to global emissions.”

Among the lawmakers who joined Sens. Cassidy and Tillis in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

“We strongly urge you to stop this shortsighted effort. As the President of the United States and as the Secretary of Energy, you should be championing — not undermining — American LNG exports and the environmental, economic, and national security benefits to the United States and our allies,” they wrote.