Biden yields to progressives, reduces US natural gas exports

As the 2024 election cycle looms, the Biden administration is considering measures to impede proposed expansions of the nation’s natural gas exports in order to align with progressive demands.

There is discontent brewing among left-leaning voters, and the administration appears poised to provide a partial victory to the Democratic Party’s progressive faction by elevating climate concerns and potentially delaying the approval of proposed projects, as reported by The Hill.

Progressive lawmakers and voters have urged the administration to reject terminals designed to export American-produced natural gas, citing potential adverse effects on the climate. To address these concerns, the administration is gearing up to implement more rigorous climate reviews for such projects, with the possibility of slowing down their approval process.

Under federal law, the administration must determine whether these projects align with the “public interest.” Recent reports indicate that the administration is considering reviewing the public interest criteria, focusing on incorporating climate considerations, as reported by Politico. An official announcement is anticipated shortly.

The administration is expected to halt any new approvals during this evaluation period. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that this anticipated move would delay the CP2 gas terminal, a major project drawing scrutiny from climate activists. Despite media requests for comments, the White House and the Energy Department remained tight-lipped.

Biden has weathered left-leaning criticism on multiple fronts, including environmentalist displeasure, which peaked last year when he approved the Willow Project, a substantial oil-drilling initiative in Alaska. Subsequently, climate activists redirected their focus to impending natural gas export projects, notably the contentious CP2 project.

Reports of a potential delay and climate review for the CP2 project garnered praise from progressives and environmental organizations. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., expressed satisfaction on X, stating, “This is a huge win for the scientists, activists, and young people who spoke out and made this possible.” Climate activist Bill McKibben echoed the sentiment on X, emphasizing the move’s significance in gaining support from climate-conscious young voters.

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokesperson for Venture Global, the company spearheading the CP2 project, responded with concern, alleging that leaks to the media were an attempt to force policymaking. She warned that pausing the project “would shock the global energy market” and signal unreliability from the United States to its allies.

While natural gas is touted as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal, environmental activists stress its contribution to climate change during production and consumption. Despite the positive reception to the anticipated move, some activists argue that a pause and expanded climate review are insufficient, calling for an outright rejection of projects like CP2.

In response, Jean Su, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice program, emphasized, “Growing national pressure from youth and frontline communities to end fossil fuel expansion got us here. Now the administration needs to go the full nine yards and reject CP2 and all new oil and gas projects.”

Jim Thomas |

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

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