White House Pauses Building Massive Natural Gas Terminals

In a recent victory for environmentalists, The White House is pausing the permitting process for several proposed natural gas export terminal projects over their potential impacts on climate change.

In a Friday morning announcement, the White House and Department of Energy said the halt would occur while officials conduct an environmental review assessing the projects’ carbon emissions, which may take over a year to complete. Environmentalists have focused on export projects recently, arguing they will lead to a significant uptick in emissions and worsen global warming.

“As our exports increase, we must review export applications using the most comprehensive, up-to-date analysis of the economic, environmental, and national security considerations. This action includes a pause on pending applications for exports of U.S. natural gas as LNG to non-free trade agreement countries until the department can update the underlying analyses for authorizations.” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters.

The move by The White House to halt the permitting process for new liquified natural gas export facilities is not expected to impact global gas supplies anytime soon. But it could create uncertainty in Europe, which has only recently battled a significant energy shock after Russia invaded Ukraine almost two years ago.

“I think U.S. allies and trade partners will have some concerns about this because, in the past two years, U.S. LNG exports have been a real boon to global energy security,” said Ben Cahill, a senior fellow in the energy security and climate change program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Liquified natural gas, or LNG, is natural gas that has been cooled to make it easier to transport. In 2023, the U.S. became the largest LNG exporter in the world, partly due to the increase in domestic production and construction of new LNG export terminals, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In his state, President Joe Biden said the recent halt comes to focus more on climate change.

“From day one, my administration has set the U.S. on an unprecedented course to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad, securing the largest climate investment in the history of the world, unlocking clean energy breakthroughs that will power a clean economy, and create thousands of jobs, advancing environmental justice for all, and rallying world leaders to transition away from the fossil fuels that jeopardize our planet and our people,” Biden said.

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 have generated tens of millions of views over the past two months.

This month, Eurogas and the Asia Natural Gas & Energy Association issued statements of support for continued permitting of U.S. LNG export terminals.

“This would be a win for Russia and a loss for American allies, U.S. jobs, and global climate progress,” American Petroleum Institute (API) CEO Mike Sommers said.