On Feb. 4, more than 150 House Republicans issued a letter calling on President Joe Biden to rescind a recently issued pause in permitting liquefied natural gas exports. Experts have said that these exports increase costs for domestic energy used by families and contribute to global climate change.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was a lead signatory to the letter, along with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA).
The letter described the Biden administration’s pause in permitting as “economically and strategically dangerous and unnecessary.”
“We urge you to end this unnecessary review and expeditiously approve all pending applications to increase the global supply of natural gas,” the lawmakers wrote.
Both members of Montana’s House delegation, Republican Reps. Matt Rosendale and Ryan Zinke, signed the letter.
The Biden administration announced its decision on Jan. 26, citing concerns about the current set of standards used to evaluate permits to export liquefied natural gas.
“The current economic and environmental analyses DOE [Department of Energy] uses to underpin its LNG [liquefied natural gas] export authorizations are roughly five years old and no longer adequately account for considerations like potential energy cost increases for American consumers and manufacturers beyond current authorizations or the latest assessment of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions,” the administration said in a statement.
The White House said that the United States is already the largest global exporter of liquefied natural gas and that the pause would not affect previous commitments to support allied nations.
It said the decision was in line with the administration’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the largest contributor to global climate change.
A study released in May 2023 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that increased exports of liquefied natural gas lead to rising costs for American families who pay for natural gas for their homes.
“As with crude oil, increasing LNG exports will cause U.S. natural gas prices to be set on the international market, meaning that domestic prices will be subject to global price fluctuations, rather than just domestic consumption and production,” Chris Martinez, the associate director for domestic climate at the Center for American Progress, wrote in a November 2023 report.
Environmental groups and prominent environmental advocates praised the pause in export permitting when it was first announced.
“This decision is a major win for communities and advocates that have long spoken out about the dangers of LNG, and makes it clear that the Biden administration is listening to the calls to break America’s reliance on dirty fossil fuels and secure a livable future for us all,” Ben Jealous, the executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a release.
Former Vice President Al Gore said the decision was a sign that Biden is taking seriously the pledge by multiple nations at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference to transition from fossil fuels.