European Legislators Urge Biden to Halt LNG Export Approvals Over Climate and Environmental Justice Concerns

Letter Argues Europe's Gas Needs Overstated to Justify LNG Build-Out


Europe - January 25, 2024 ( Sixty members of the European Parliament and national legislatures sent an open letter today to President Joe Biden, welcoming reports that his administration may pause approvals for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals over climate and environmental justice impacts.

The lawmakers thanked the U.S. for the role of LNG exports in helping Europe avoid an energy crisis after Russia invaded Ukraine. However, they argue the fossil fuel industry is providing a "false depiction" of European energy needs to dramatically expand LNG capacity for export to global markets.

"Europe should not be used as an excuse to expand LNG exports that threaten our shared climate and have dire impacts on US communities," the letter states. It details how Europe's current gas demand is already being met and existing import infrastructure is underutilized at just 60% capacity in 2023.

Citing EU climate policies, the parliamentarians note Europe's gas demand will steeply decline as renewable energy and efficiency measures expand. By 2026, Europe's gas demand could fall 20% below 2021 levels per International Energy Agency estimates.

They argue new LNG export and import projects in the U.S. and Europe would create stranded assets and impede both continent's climate goals. "The demand for new gas from industry voices in Europe is a false one, designed to lock-in...polluting infrastructure," they wrote.

The letter also raises concerns about the environmental justice impacts of U.S. LNG production, including pollution from fracking and pipelines disproportionately harming low-income communities and communities of color.

In light of these issues, the European lawmakers "urge the Biden Administration to pause the approval of all new LNG export facilities until it can properly assess the impact of these facilities on the climate, environmental justice, and the public interest."

Additional quotes from energy experts in Europe can be found below: 

"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."

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."

"Europe's ambitious climate goals mean that gas demand will decline dramatically over the coming years. Instead of locking in new infrastructure to export fossil gas to Europe we need a renewed drive for improving energy efficiency, renewable energy and electrification to move away from gas for good," said Dr Jan Rosenow, director at the Regulatory Assistance Project.

"We are already very close to the 1.5 °C climate change limit, so we can only emit more CO2 if at the same time the fossil methane emissions are reduced drastically. Expanding LNG production would do just the opposite," said Prof. Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf, climatologist at PIK and University of Potsdam. investing ideas in water stocks

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