Biden admin caves to Republican pressure, greenlights natural gas projects

Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

The Biden administration finally approved permits for two liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals in Texas and Louisiana after pressure from industry groups and Republican lawmakers.

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued the two long-term orders, approving the Golden Pass LNG terminal in Texas and Magnolia LNG terminal in Louisiana, according to an announcement Wednesday. The action will enable the U.S. to export an additional 500 million cubic feet of domestically-produced LNG per day.

“U.S. fuel supplies, including LNG, continue to play a key role in global energy security, particularly due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management said.

The administration ultimately approved the two terminals’ permits Wednesday due to pressure from Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a source familiar with the decision told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Cruz has blocked DOE nominations over the LNG export terminal permit approval delays.

Cruz agreed to release the nomination of a DOE assistant secretary Wednesday, the source said.

President Joe Biden struck a deal with European Union leaders in March to send an additional nearly 530 billion cubic feet (bcf) of U.S. LNG to the bloc amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. The crisis has roiled global energy markets and Russia has already cut gas supplies to some EU nations.

The two LNG projects were approved by the Trump administration, but the Biden administration had dragged its feet in issuing final permits for more than a year, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement. She added that issuing the “non-controversial” permits was the “bare minimum.”

“At such a critical time for global energy needs, I’m proud to have led the fight to press the Department of Energy to help secure permits for export at two new LNG export facilities,” Cruz said in a statement.

“I want to thank Secretary Granholm for listening to my concerns about how the delays in permitting was hurting our economy and working productively with me to finally issue these permits,” he continued.

In March, the Texas lawmaker introduced the Energy Freedom Act, a broad bill promoting domestic energy production. The legislation would approve all pending LNG export licenses, bypassing the White House.

“We thank Sen. Cruz for his longstanding support of Golden Pass LNG and we are grateful for his role in securing this opportunity to bring clean energy from Texas to power the world,” Golden Pass LNG President and CEO Sean Ryan said in a statement.

Fred Hutchison, the president of the group LNG Allies, applauded the administration’s action Wednesday, saying it showed the DOE understands “how important U.S. LNG exports are for both energy security and climate progress.”

There are still two pending LNG export terminals awaiting approval, according to LNG Allies. The DOE has now issued four such permits over the past six weeks.

In 2021, the U.S. exported about 3,560 bcf of LNG worldwide, Energy Information Administration data showed.

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