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U.S. Temporarily Suspends LNG Export Approvals

By Faridat Salifu

In a noteworthy development, the US Department of Energy has announced a temporary suspension of all approvals for LNG exports, as revealed in a statement from the White House in Washington, DC.

This decision, made public on Friday, January 26, 2024, is seen by government authorities as a long-overdue step towards integrating environmental and climate change considerations into the evaluation of such projects.

During this hiatus, the Department of Energy (DOE) will embark on a comprehensive review, concentrating on the economic and environmental impacts of LNG export projects destined for European and Asian markets where demand for the fuel is particularly high.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, in a teleconference with reporters, indicated that the review process is anticipated to span several months and will include a public comment period.

President Biden, in a statement, underscored the imperative to reevaluate the effects of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security, and the environment. This pause is framed as a significant stride in addressing the climate crisis, identified as the paramount threat of our time.

Despite heavy reliance on US LNG supplies by companies and countries in Europe, concerns regarding methane release from LNG operations, with its considerably higher warming capacity than carbon, have led to widespread opposition from environmental groups.

The decision to halt approvals has been lauded by environmentalists, resulting in the cancellation of a planned sit-in protest at DOE headquarters.

Key figures in the opposition to the LNG build-out, including Roishetta Ozane, founder and director of The Vessel Project of Louisiana, and Michelle Weindling, political director of the youth-based Sunrise Movement, voiced support for the pause, underscoring its potential impact on addressing the climate crisis and garnering support from young voters.

Furthermore, various industry sectors, such as chemicals, steel, food, and agriculture, have expressed concerns about potential risks associated with unrestricted US gas exports, citing potential implications for fuel prices and reliability.

The temporary suspension comes in the aftermath of the Americas Energy Summit and follows substantial pushback from EU lawmakers, signaling a shifting global conversation surrounding LNG exports and their environmental impact.

This move has been commended as a significant step towards environmental justice, raising optimism for potential rejections of LNG export projects in the future.

 

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