White House Watch

Biden Admin Power Players Met To Discuss Possible About-Face On Key Natural Gas Export Facilities

Key Biden administration officials met over the weekend to discuss criteria for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, according to several reports.

The officials, assembled by White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi, met on Saturday to come up with a recommendation for President Joe Biden on potential changes to the climate-related criteria the federal government uses to approve the construction of new LNG export terminals, a move which could derail the construction of key facilities, according to Bloomberg News. The meeting occurred against a backdrop of escalating pressure from left-wing environmentalist groups that vehemently oppose further development of the facilities, especially the Calcasieu Pass 2 project in Louisiana, while American allies in Europe are pushing to access more U.S. LNG.

Officials reportedly involved in the review process include Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Senior Adviser to the President John Podesta, Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk and Brad Crabtree, the assistant secretary for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, according to Politico. The DOE is examining its evaluation system for proposed projects’ climate, geopolitical and domestic economic impacts, a senior Biden administration official told Politico.

American LNG exports have been on a steady rise since July 2020, reaching a record high in October 2023, the most recent month on record with the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Advisers have reportedly briefed Biden on the issue, but he has yet to make a final decision, according to Politico.

Environmentalists have recently declared their intention to hold a sit-in protest at the DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C., to pressure officials and make clear their disdain for the continued permitting of LNG export facilities. Young voters and eco-activist organizations are poised to be key constituencies for Biden and fellow Democrats as the 2024 election draws closer on the calendar, according to Bloomberg.

“The fossil fuel industry is planning over 20 new LNG Export facilities in the Gulf of Mexico,” Third Act, a climate activism group participating in the February sit-in protest, wrote in its promotional message for the event. “We’re giving DOE and the Biden administration until February to make the right call. If they do, we’ll turn this action into a celebration and get back to work on the fight against fossil fuels. If they don’t, we’ll be there to show them they can’t ignore community voices and the climate.”

However, any decision that would severely hamper the expansion of LNG export terminal facilities could also draw the ire of foreign allies in Asia and especially in Europe, which is particularly interested in growing its access to American LNG as the continent looks to shift away from Russian supply, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

Neither the DOE nor the White House responded immediately to requests for comment.

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Nick Pope

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