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Biden puts a hold on what would be the nation’s largest liquified natural gas terminal

U.S. president facing pressure from environmental groups to delay Louisiana export terminal

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This undated aerial file photo shows the Dominion Liquified Natural Gas facility in Cove Point, Md.

This undated aerial file photo shows a Liquified Natural Gas facility in Cove Point, Md. President Joe Biden is under pressure from environmental groups about carbon emissions from LNG processing plants.

Matt Houston, Associated Press

A huge liquified natural gas, or LNG, export terminal slated for construction in Louisiana is now on hold after President Joe Biden received pressure from environmental groups regarding its carbon emissions.

Venture Global LNG’s Calcasieu Pass 2, or CP2, project would be twice the size of the company’s present CP plant. If it is built, it would make Venture Global one of the largest liquified natural gas companies in the world. It would have an export capacity of around 20 million metric tons per year, making it the largest in the United States and further solidify the United States as the leading exporter of liquified natural gas.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says liquified natural gas export capacity jumped from about one billion cubic feet per day in 2016 to an average of about 10.59 cubic feet per day in 2022. Exports involved 34 countries and accounted for about 56% of total natural gas exports. The war between Russia and Ukraine is largely credited with the increased exports as European countries were cut off from Russian fuel.

Venture Global said Biden’s actions are worrying.

“Such an action would shock the global energy market, having the impact of an economic sanction, and send a devastating signal to our allies that they can no longer rely on the United States,” said Shaylyn Hynes, a company spokesperson, quoted in The New York Times.

Environmental groups, however, are praising the pause by the Biden administration in which the permitting would be reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“Before deciding whether the public would be well served by CP2 and other LNG export terminals, the administration needs to sharpen its tools. In particular, and at a minimum, these decisions must take into account the projects’ impact on the climate crisis, environmental justice and consumer utility bills,” the Natural Resources Defense Council said.

“It takes an enormous amount of energy — and coughs up vast amounts of the carbon pollution driving the climate crisis — to extract, transport and process,” it said, stressing that LNG terminals cover hundreds of acres and require miles of pipeline.

Multiple industry groups urged Biden to resist the pause on liquified natural gas export terminals.

“Our nation’s abundant supply of natural gas is an impactful geopolitical tool, helping insulate American consumers from increasing global instability while advancing American national interests and ensuring the energy security of key U.S. allies,” the groups wrote in a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

“Moving forward with a pause on new U.S. LNG export approvals would only bolster Russian influence and undercut President Biden’s own commitment to supply our allies with reliable energy, undermining American credibility and threatening American jobs.”

The letter added: “Nearly eight years of operating experience and DOE’s own studies have demonstrated that LNG exports are squarely within the public interest. Throttling down U.S. LNG exports will eliminate an important tool in reducing global emissions and force quickly developing nations — specifically in Asia — to abandon plans to reduce emissions and increase coal consumption.”

Utah produces its own liquified natural gas and at one point forged an alliance with other states, the Ute Tribe and the Consumer Energy Alliance to solidify an export terminal in Oregon. In addition, Dominion Energy operates a liquified natural gas storage facility in Magna.