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Our Take on International Trade

| 1 minute read

LNG Export Permitting May Face Further Delays as the Biden Administration Considers New Climate Impact Criteria

An increased focus by the Biden administration on the climate impact of liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) export facilities could impact the timing of the Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) permitting of LNG exports.    Following up on an agreement reached by the United States and nearly 200 other countries at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai to transition away from fossil fuels, the White House climate adviser is developing a policy recommendation for President Biden on the criteria used to evaluate climate impact when considering whether to approve new LNG export facilities in the United States.  Additionally, the Washington-based news company Politico has reported that the DOE is reviewing whether it is properly accounting for the climate impact of proposed LNG export facilities in its export licensing process.  This administration-wide review effort is consistent with reported warnings that U.S. government officials gave to industry representatives during meetings at the COP28 summit of potentially protracted delays for LNG export approvals.

These climate-related issues over LNG exports are becoming more center stage for the Biden administration as it looks toward the 2024 presidential election.  LNG trade groups have raised concerns about the economic and trade impacts of further delaying LNG export permits.  They note the President’s commitment to provide more gas to Europe after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; and emphasize that reviews of LNG export applications are already taking more than 330 days, up from 49 days under the Trump administration and 155 days under the Obama administration.  While at the same time, environmental groups and some Democrats in Congress have raised climate concerns with LNG exports.  In considering a policy response to addressing these issues in LNG export permitting, the Biden administration will be looking to balance the issues of promoting U.S. energy dominance with those of environmental protection, all well trying to address the concerns of those voters that will be important to the President’s re-election.

“Should the Biden administration decide to needlessly delay permits for additional LNG exports, it would undoubtedly send a troubling message to our allies and potentially force them to seek supply from bad actors like Russia for LNG supply,”