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A protest against an LNG export terminal in Oregon in 2019 Alamy Stock Photo

Biden announces pause on new LNG export terminals in face of 'existential threat' of climate crisis

The US is the world’s leading exporter of LNG after recently overtaking Qatar.

THE US IS pausing decisions on new export facilities for liquefied natural gas (LNG) to assess its impacts on energy costs and the environment, President Joe Biden has announced.

In a new statement today, Biden announced a “temporary pause on pending decisions of Liquefied Natural Gas exports – with the exception of unanticipated and immediate national security emergencies”. 

The US is the world’s leading exporter of LNG after recently overtaking Qatar.

LNG is controversial; while it’s not as heavy a polluter as oil or coal, gas is still a fossil fuel that contributes to pushing global temperatures upwards and exacerbating the climate crisis. 

Currently, there are seven LNG export terminals operating in the US, with two more under construction and a further 15 in the pipeline.

“During this period, we will take a hard look at the impacts of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security, and our environment. This pause on new LNG approvals sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time,” Biden said.

In every corner of the country and the world, people are suffering the devastating toll of climate change.

“Historic hurricanes and floods wiping out homes, businesses, and houses of worship. Wildfires destroying whole neighborhoods and forcing families to leave their communities behind,” he said.

“Record temperatures affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans, especially the most vulnerable.”

Environmental NGO Greenpeace welcomed the decision as an important step towards moving away from fossil fuels and said it has the potential to permanently derail LNG expansion in the United States.

Greenpeace USA Executive Director Ebony Twilley-Martin called it an “incredible win that rests squarely in the hands of people living on the frontlines who have been fighting this nightmare tirelessly for years”.

“With this delay, President Biden is demonstrating that the United States can and will transition away from dirty oil and gas. It’s a remarkable step that defines the stakes in the upcoming election.”

The move may be a bid by Biden to appeal to young people and voters concerned about climate change ahead of the presidential election in November, where it appears increasingly likely that he will face down Donald Trump once again.

Twilley-Martin said the White House “must now turn this administrative pause into concrete action by updating the climate analysis required for fossil fuel export approvals”.

If done correctly, this change would permanently derail all other planned LNG terminals. The gas boom planned in this country would poison our communities and set us firmly on the path to an unlivable planet.

“LNG projects across the Gulf South are already harming people’s health, wrecking the environment, raising prices for families, and threatening our national security.

“We can’t afford to rubber-stamp these climate Death Stars that will decimate both local communities and our planet. Now, the Biden administration needs to finish the job – let’s make the pause permanent.”

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