Washington, DC - January 24, 2024 (www.waternewswire.com) According to the New York Times, the Biden administration is halting approvals for the controversial CP2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Louisiana in order to review and update the process for determining such projects' impact on the public interest.
Experts predict that this decision will also have implications for the additional 16 proposed LNG export facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. If completed, these facilities would result in an extra 3.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, close to the entire annual emissions of the European Union. Just Venture Global's CP2 project alone would have over 20 times the greenhouse gas emissions of the Willow, a project that President Biden enraged youth voters by approving last March.
Activists and energy experts across the United States and Europe are widely praising this likely decision, calling it President Biden's most expansive climate action to date, if true.
Roishetta Ozane, Director of the Vessel Project and Louisiana native, celebrated the decision, "If the reporting is true and the Biden administration is announcing a pause, it would be a positive step towards fairness. It shows that the government recognizes the need to protect the rights and well-being of these communities. This decision would send a strong message that we can no longer allow fossil fuel industries to operate without considering the health and safety of the people living in these areas. However, it's important to remember that there is still more work to be done. We need to continue advocating for sustainable alternatives and making sure that decision-makers are held accountable for the well-being of frontline communities."
The Department of Energy's expected action will immediately stop the licensing of any new LNG export facility until the department completes its public interest determination review process, something that is expected to take at least a year.
"As the U.S. Energy Information Administration points out, exporting LNG drives up domestic energy costs, affecting everything from home heating to food prices. It's time to really assess our priorities and consider the wider implications of these projects - there's no Public Interest in padding the pockets and short-term profits of big gas companies on the backs of every American family," said James Hiatt, Director of For a Better Bayou.
Over the last three months, stopping LNG export facilities has become a top priority for the environmental justice and climate movement. Videos opposing the projects have generated more than 13.5 million views across social media platforms, driving more than 450,000 signatures on petitions urging DOE to pause approvals. In December, more than 170 scientists wrote a letter urging President Biden to stop what they called the "staggering" buildout of export facilities. The administration's support for LNG exports has also caused what The Hill called a "revolt" within the Democratic Party, with dozens of members of congress opposing the buildout.
"Millions of people across the country have been urging the Biden Administration to take measurable action on fossil fuels; to reject new oil and gas projects, phase out current production, and build a new economy that prioritizes everything we hold dear, from unions to breathable air. This decision is a tremendous step forward in the movement for economic, environmental, and health justice," said Elise Joshi, Executive Director of Gen-Z for Change and social media influencer.
Frontline leaders from the Gulf alongside movement allies have been planning a massive, three day sit-in at the Department of Energy this February 6-8 to pressure the Biden Administration to pause the approval of any new LNG facilities. Until the decision is confirmed by the Biden administration, the sit-in is still on.
"The world pledged in Dubai that the time had come to transition away from fossil fuels, and--assuming the account in the Times is accurate--today the Biden administration made a courageous step in that direction. More than any president before him, Biden has stood up to Big Oil--their outcry today is proof of what a big deal this is. All credit goes to those in the Gulf who've been fighting this for years--thank heaven the administration took seriously their cause, and acted boldly today. With this decision, President Biden--who already can claim to have done more to bolster clean energy than any of his predecessors--has also done more to check dirty energy, halting the largest fossil fuel expansion in history," said Bill McKibben, activist and organizer of the sit-in at DOE.
In response to the ongoing debate around LNG, a few voices in the Biden administration and the oil and gas industry have argued that continuing the expansion of LNG exports is vital to ensure Europe has enough gas as well as providing a guarantee of global energy security. In reality, with European natural gas demand expected to steeply decline over the next few years as renewable energy sources expand and energy efficiency improves, european energy experts are warning policymakers and investors about the potential risks of overinvestment in imported LNG infrastructure.
"Fossil fuels and LNG continue to contribute to massive problems across the planet: economic losses in the trillions, climate disruption, geopolitical conflict and horrific war, breathing problems costing millions of lives. The solution is to build out cheaper clean energy, like wind and solar, and to stop subsidizing fossil fuels and LNG, which received $7 trillion in subsidies globally last year, according to the IMF. If the reporting is true, President Biden's efforts to stop addiction to fossil fuels and to support clean energy are well recognized, and are a shining model others must follow. Only when we end fossil fuels can we win over petro dictators, and stop Big Oil profiteering off the Russian War in Ukraine." said Svitlana Romanko, Director of Ukrainian organization Razom We Stand.
"The EU has already initiated its gas phase out, our analysis shows the EU will cut its oil and gas demand by one third by 2030 and gas can be effectively phased out by 2040," said Linda Kalcher, Executive Director of Strategic Perspectives. "The price of LNG is volatile and substantially higher than the one of pipeline gas. European governments and companies are massively scaling up renewables-based solutions as it's the best economic and energy security choice. New LNG investments will be a white elephant US investors will live to regret."
The International Energy Agency forecasts European gas demand to fall 8% from 2022-2026. Existing LNG import facilities in Germany and across Europe are already underutilized. Prof. Dr. Claudia Kemfert, economic expert at the German Institute for Economic Research and Leuphana University, Germany, said "expanding LNG infrastructure in the USA and in the EU is a high economic risk that will very likely end up as stranded assets."
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