Battle rages over Biden’s pause of natural gas exports

020824 KLST-TV LNG Biden

By Jessi Turnure

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Senate Republicans are accusing President Joe Biden of waging a war against their natural gas producing states after he ordered a freeze on new liquid natural gas exports.

The group of GOP lawmakers argues the move delivers a win to Russia while cutting jobs back home. However, the Biden administration said the U.S. needs to reassess its exports for economic and environmental reasons.

“President Biden is trying to commit energy suicide,” said U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, (R-La.) “It’s going to hurt the economy, it’s going to hurt the American people, and it’s going to hurt our friends, particularly in Europe.”

LNG exports had skyrocketed as the U.S. urged European allies of Ukraine to stop buying Russian natural gas and buy American. But now, U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, (R-Miss.), said that money will go right back to our adversaries.

“I mean, it’s like, ‘You’re welcome, Russia,'” Hyde-Smith said.

The Biden administration argues the U.S. will remain the world’s top gas exporter while it studies the impacts on the economy, climate change and national security.

“Frankly, I think it would be irresponsible if we weren’t taking a step back,” said David Turk, the U.S. Energy Department’s deputy secretary.

During a Senate Energy Committee hearing Thursday, Turk told lawmakers the U.S. is already on track to double these exports because of projects already approved and under construction.

“These kinds of numbers give me great confidence that we are taking care of our allies,” he said.

Turk stresses American workers also won’t lose out since the temporary pause only impacts construction years down the line.

“Those jobs are not at stake here,” he said. “Those projects continue.”

However, the issue is even dividing lawmakers who typically side with the Biden administration.

“You really leaped before you looked,” said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.). “That’s all we’re saying.”

“I think it’s just the opposite, Mr. Chairman,” said U.S. Sen. Angus King, (I-Maine.). “They’re doing their job. Their job is to see that these projects are in the public interest.”