White House’s Election-year LNG Pause Garners Bipartisan Blowback at Senate Energy Hearing

020824 LNG Hearing
VIDEO: Senator Hyde-Smith Questions Administration Rationale for Pausing LNG Exports.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today added her voice to bipartisan criticism that election-year politics are the impetus for the Biden administration’s surprise decision to pause permits for liquified natural gas (LNG) export projects.

The White House order for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to pause pending non-free trade agreement export permit applications drew bipartisan blowback at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to examine the administration’s action.

“To no one’s surprise, here we are again talking about how the Biden administration is just causing a train wreck for domestic energy policy.  The U.S. exports more LNG than any other country in the world, as we are well aware, which is a critical way of aiding our allies against Putin’s aggressions and combatting Iranian-backed forces,” Hyde-Smith said.  “However, with this new pause on pending and future approvals, this aid could end.  I mean it’s like, ‘You’re welcome, Russia.’”

In questioning Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk, Hyde-Smith asked for an explanation of the department’s 180-degree shift from a July 2023 determination that it had “rigorous standards” for approving LNG gas exports to the January freeze on pending approvals of LNG exports.

“That was just six months ago.  Now, in the first of the new year, DOE has done a complete 180 and paused LNG exporting permits to perform a blanket review of its LNG policy for climate change,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Why shouldn’t we believe that the sudden change in tune from ‘rigorous standards’ to a blanket review of LNG export regulation is a result of any strategic, political play from the Biden administration?”

Turk downplayed the impact the pause would have on U.S. energy and its effect on U.S. allies that rely on LNG exports.

“We are just asking questions with this pause.  We are asking questions with this analysis to make sure that our experts at the national labs are coming at it in a very rigorous way to inform those decisions once the pause is lifted,” Turk testified.

Hyde-Smith was among 26 Senators who signed a letter to President Biden and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm that outlined the economic and global security risks associated with the administration’s decision to re-evaluate the criteria to approve permits for LNG export projects.

“Limiting U.S. LNG exports do not have any impact on the world’s demand for natural gas. Instead, countries including Russia and Iran will simply produce more energy that is subject to less stringent environmental regulations.  As a result, limiting American LNG exports in the name of stopping climate change could do just the opposite and add to global emissions,” the Senators wrote.  “We strongly urge you to stop this shortsighted effort.  As the President of the United States and as the Secretary of Energy, you should be championing – not undermining – American LNG exports and the environmental, economic, and national security benefits to the United States and our allies.”