By Chris Barnard
The White House announced Friday that it ordered a “temporary pause” in permitting new liquefied natural gas export terminals. The move came after climate activists criticized President Biden for his decision to approve the Willow oil-drilling project in Alaska. The president likely thinks he’s throwing a bone to a key part of his base in a crucial election year. But Mr. Biden’s misguided attempt to assuage climate extremists won’t help tackle climate change. It could make carbon emissions worse.
The environmental risks of the Biden permitting pause are tightly tied to its geopolitical ones, which could be disastrous themselves. If America exports less LNG, our adversaries will fill the supply gap. China is rapidly permitting new coal-fired power plants—the country’s coal-power capacity has more than doubled in the past few years—while monopolizing supply chains for critical minerals and renewable energy. Meantime, Russia still exercises energy dominance over Europe in the wake of its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
The more our allies rely on Beijing and Moscow to keep the lights on, the greater sway these bad actors will have over those allies’ policymaking. Iran also gains geopolitical power from a U.S. permitting pause, as energy insecurity fuels instability and conflict in the Middle East.
Along with the real geopolitical risk, these energy exports from totalitarian countries also carry a much larger carbon footprint. The U.S. produces natural gas more safely and cleanly than almost any other country. The LNG that America exports to Europe is significantly cleaner than the natural gas that Russia exports. China also produces dirtier energy, with more than 300 new coal plants in the permitting pipeline.
If Mr. Biden were serious about reducing carbon emissions, he’d double down on American LNG. Since 2005, the U.S. has cut more carbon-dioxide emissions than the next eight countries combined, in part because of its gradual transition from coal to natural gas as an energy source. Exporting cleaner American energy to countries that still rely heavily on coal is one of the most important tools the U.S. has to reduce global emissions.
Natural gas isn’t a perfect energy solution: Using and exporting LNG is associated with methane emissions, a challenge that policymakers must address. But until a perfect fix arrives, it’s a critical tool to achieving a cleaner tomorrow. Most Americans recognize that a mix of energy sources, both renewables and fossil fuels, will be needed for the foreseeable future. An all-of-the-above strategy is the only path to ensure both energy security and economic growth.
Instead of acknowledging this, the Biden administration has sent mixed signals on American energy—on the one hand shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline, on the other approving the Willow project. Now, with a pause on permitting LNG export projects, the administration is risking American energy security and potentially contributing to higher global emissions.
More U.S. natural gas is better—for America and the planet. It’s not anticlimate to champion a pro-American energy agenda, and it’s not anti-American to champion pro-climate measures. The Biden administration must recognize this and dismiss the idea of halting permits on new LNG export terminals.
Chris Barnard is president of the American Conservation Coalition, the largest conservative environmental organization in the U.S. with 40,000+ members. EnergiesNet.com does not necessarily share these views.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), on January 26, 2024. All comments posted and published on EnergiesNet or Petroleumworld, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of EnergiesNet or Petroleumworld.
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EnergiesNet.com 01 29 2024