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Dozens of former top federal officials call on Congress to strike down Biden’s natural gas crackdown

Dozens of former Trump and Bush administration officials – who served in the White House, Department of Energy and State Department – are calling on Congress to reverse President Biden’s pause on liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects.

In a letter Monday morning to the chairs and ranking members of top House and Senate committees, 35 ex-officials expressed “profound concern” about Biden’s LNG export moratorium, outlining how it works against U.S. national security, energy and economic interests. They argued that reversing the policy is “imperative” and urged the congressional leaders to take immediate action on the issue.

“This decision, we believe, stands in stark contrast to the clear interests of our nation’s economic prosperity, energy security, and the strategic advantage American LNG provides us and our allies across the world who benefit from supply,” the former U.S. officials wrote. “American energy has become a stabilizing force in global markets, reinforcing our alliances and promoting global stability. The moratorium on LNG export permits threatens to undo these gains.”

“The United States has provided benefits to a significant part of the world’s population – a role we have been proud to advance as representatives of our Nation,” they continued. “We remain committed to the role of the United States as a stabilizing force in global energy markets.”

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The signatories on the letter include former Energy Secretaries Spencer Abraham, Rick Perry and Dan Brouillette, former National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Commissioner Bernard McNamee, former White House deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates, and more than two dozen former State Department ambassadors.

In their letter, they stressed that LNG exports ensure energy supplies for allies and strengthen the U.S. economy in the form of creating thousands of high-paying jobs, stimulating local economies and generating “significant tax revenue.” If proposed LNG export projects on pause as a result of Biden’s actions don’t proceed, such economic benefits would move to foreign nations.

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“The cessation of exports risks derailing this progress, impacting workers and communities across the country that have come to rely on the energy sector,” they wrote.

Fossil fuel industry groups have recently cited research indicating that LNG exports could add as much as $73 billion to the U.S. economy by 2040, create 453,000 American jobs and increase U.S. purchasing power by $30 billion.

Additionally, the ex-officials argued that the ability for greater LNG exports allows energy companies to invest in more domestic infrastructure that would, in turn, support U.S. energy supplies. 

And they further stated that limiting LNG exports “sends the wrong message to our allies, partners and the energy markets.” In the aftermath of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, energy experts argued LNG exports would be critical for helping American allies to wean off Russian gas and, in December, more than 87% of U.S. LNG exports went to Europe, U.K. or Asian markets.

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“In the aftermath of Russia’s war in Ukraine, alternative supplies are more important than ever to fill the void of Russian natural gas,” the former officials wrote. “Security of energy supply, specifically natural gas, is critical to counter the threat of widespread deindustrialization as Europe not only faces war on its continent but also a desire to implement a clean energy transition.”

“Germany’s own steps to rapidly deploy LNG import infrastructure demonstrate this crisis most exceptionally,” their letter continued. “They have signed binding contracts for long-term US LNG supply that are now being put into question by our government.”

Late last month, Biden ordered the DOE to pause pending permits for LNG export facilities while federal officials conduct a rigorous environmental review assessing the projects’ carbon emissions, which could take more than a year to complete. The action represents a major victory for activists who have loudly called for such a move, even threatening to hold large protests over the issue.

The president said the pause on LNG permitting was a part of his sweeping climate agenda, adding the action “sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time.” He also took aim at “MAGA Republicans” for willfully denying the “urgency of the climate crisis.”

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