Opinion: Biden’s LNG ‘pause’ threatens Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry

During the 2020 election, then-candidate Joe Biden campaigned on ending fossil fuels. Now, his administration’s decision made in January — a so-called “pause” on pending liquified natural gas (LNG) exports — comes during an election year yet again. Except this time, the policy decision is effective immediately, and it dramatically threatens Pennsylvania’s flourishing natural gas industry.

As the saying goes, “promises made, promises kept.”

Pennsylvania is the second largest natural gas producing state in the country, behind only Texas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The Keystone State, what was once deemed “The Saudi Arabia of natural gas,” accounts for nearly one-fifth of the nation’s natural gas output. Compared to traditional natural gas that many of us use to heat our homes, LNG is natural gas that has been supercooled to a liquid state. This allows for easier shipping and storage, making it a hot commodity on the global energy market.

The Biden administration announced this election-year pause citing climate change, doubling down on a promise to combat what the president calls the “existential threat of our time.”

No one is against protecting the environment. In fact, that is one of the biggest benefits of natural gas — it is perhaps the cleanest fossil fuel on the market today. It is also abundant and affordable. That abundance is what propelled the United States to become the global leader in LNG exports in 2023, surpassing longtime leaders Qatar and Australia.

America is not only competing — it is winning.

But once again, the Biden administration is forcing short-sighted energy policy to fit broader political needs rather than what is in America’s best interest. Their track record on American energy leads me to believe that this “pause” may not be temporary after all. On Day One in office, Biden signed executive actions to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project between the U.S. and Canada. Then, two years ago, the administration depleted nearly half of our national Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to lower gas prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rattled the oil markets. These reserves are used for major natural disasters, such as hurricanes. Prices dropped a few cents each time oil was released ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, yet Americans still paid as much as $5 a gallon for gasoline. Despite a pledge to refill the reverses, they remain only half full.

This is why, over the last month or so, House Republicans have passed legislation to reverse the administration’s decision. This includes a bill that would shift LNG export authority from the Department of Energy (DOE) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This would depoliticize the LNG export ban and allow for a more policy-driven discussion. Just last month, the House also passed the “Protecting American Energy Production Act,” legislation which prohibits the president from declaring a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. In recent days, we have seen more than a dozen states take legislative and legal action of their own to reverse this economically-threatening pause.

These House-passed bills are necessary because DOE has already commissioned five studies to examine the economic and environmental effects of U.S. LNG exports. Further, DOE has also issued two studies which ultimately concluded U.S. LNG exports show strong environmental benefits. The studies were conducted under both the Obama and Trump administrations.

I firmly believe energy security is national security. That’s why the Biden administration’s decision to disrupt American LNG production is not only irresponsible to Americans, but also to our allies overseas. U.S. LNG exports have helped to wean European countries off Russian energy as the Russia-Ukraine war enters year three. Reversing this de facto ban means we can continue to export clean, affordable American natural gas to allies around the world long-term.

Before serving in Congress, I spent my working life in the private sector. Like any business owner, I never made an investment unless I believed there would be a strong return. As natural gas producers and LNG exporters continue to review the president’s decision, they rightfully are concerned about their future. Why would you invest billions of dollars into a project without knowing if you are legally permitted to complete it? The International Energy Agency projects natural gas will play a major role in global energy consumption through 2050. The White House must reverse this decision if the U.S. is to remain a global LNG leader.

The Biden administration’s political objectives coupled with the intense desire to implement green energy policies overnight are robbing Americans and our allies of a stable energy source as demand grows at home and abroad. Pennsylvania’s economic future, and the 423,000 jobs in the commonwealth that are supported by the natural gas industry, heavily depend on whether the Biden administration’s pause turns into an outright ban.

Author: Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.)
Publication: MSN
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