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President Biden’s pause on LNG export approvals prompts a mix of praise and concern, impacting global energy dynamics and environmental debates.

In a decision resonating across the energy sector, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a significant pause on approvals for both pending and future applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from new projects. This move, welcomed by climate activists, is set to potentially push back decisions on new plants until after the November 5 election, injecting a new dynamic into the energy discourse.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is tasked with a comprehensive review during this hiatus, scrutinizing the economic and environmental ramifications of projects slated to export LNG, particularly to Europe and Asia, regions where demand for this fuel is surging. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, in a teleconference with reporters, indicated that the review, coupled with a subsequent public commentary period, will be a months-long process.

In a definitive statement, Biden highlighted the focus of the review: "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." He termed the climate crisis as "the existential threat of our time," reflecting the administration's environmental stance.

Despite the pause, administration officials assured that the move wouldn't jeopardize U.S. allies, citing an exemption for national security that permits continued LNG provision if necessary. The U.S., after ascending to the status of the world's top LNG exporter last year, plays a pivotal role in supporting European countries aiming to reduce dependence on Russian pipelined gas, particularly post-Ukraine invasion. Similarly, Asian allies, in their quest to diminish coal consumption, eye U.S. LNG as a crucial resource.

A European Commission spokesperson, acknowledging the national security exemption, told Reuters that the pause wouldn't disrupt the EU's short to medium-term energy supply stability. However, the decision didn't sit well with everyone. Karoline Leavitt, representing former President Donald Trump's campaign, criticized the move as detrimental to America's economic and national security.

This pause comes against a backdrop of heightened capacity in LNG export projects, which have seen substantial growth since the last review in 2018. The expansion, however, has ignited protests from environmentalists and youth groups, part of Biden's support base, who argue that new LNG projects perpetuate pollution, foster global fossil fuel dependency, and contribute to methane emissions.

In light of the announcement, environmentalists, who had planned a sit-in protest at DOE headquarters, celebrated the decision. Roishetta Ozane, a prominent figure in the anti-LNG movement, lauded the pause as a potential harbinger of project rejections and a slowdown in industry progression. Michelle Weindling from the Sunrise Movement saw this as an opportunity for Biden to solidify support among young voters by decisively addressing the climate crisis.

On the flip side, various U.S. industries, including chemicals and agriculture, voiced concerns over unrestricted gas exports, citing risks to fuel prices and reliability. The pause directly impacts four projects awaiting DOE approval, potentially involving companies like Sempra Infrastructure and Commonwealth LNG. While Sempra expressed confidence in their project's environmental benefits and strategic value to allies, other companies have yet to respond.

Tensions also mount around Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass 2 (CP2) project in Louisiana, a significant focus for climate activists due to its scale. Though CP2 awaits approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the DOE's pause encompasses all current and future applications until the review's conclusion, potentially affecting CP2 and similar projects.

In a climate of uncertainty and fervent debate, Biden's decision marks a critical juncture in the intersection of energy policy, environmental stewardship, and international relations, setting the stage for a pivotal period in global energy dynamics.

Samira is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, but deep inside, her heart is a nomad! She's a state champion debater, a public speaker, a scriptwriter, a theater actress, but most importantly — A GREEN CITIZEN! She thinks of herself as a storyteller who thrives on enjoying the life at fullest and telling everyone the tales of life.

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