Judge Blocks Federal Government’s Pause on LNG Exports

Caden Pearson
By Caden Pearson
July 2, 2024US News
Judge Blocks Federal Government’s Pause on LNG Exports
Model of LNG tanker is seen in front of the U.S. flag in this illustration taken on May 19, 2022. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on July 1, halting the federal government’s temporary moratorium on new licenses to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to non-free trade agreement countries.

The lawsuit was brought by 16 states, led by Louisiana, arguing that the Department of Energy (DOE) violated federal law by pausing licenses in January to assess the impact of shipments on climate change.

Judge James Cain Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana said the DOE’s decision to halt approvals appeared to be “completely without reason or logic and is perhaps the epiphany of ideocracy.”

“For the reasons explained herein, the Court finds that the Plaintiff States have standing to assert their claims in this action and as to the preliminary injunction,” Judge Cain wrote.

He added that the plaintiff states, all Republican-led, are entitled to injunctive relief and ordered “that the LNG Export Ban be stayed in its entirety, effective immediately.”

The judge found that Louisiana, where the LNG market accounts for 18,000 jobs and an annual contribution of $4.4 billion to the economy, would be irreparably harmed should pending LNG projects be canceled.

Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill on Monday called the decision “a major victory for American energy.” She said the pause had threatened some $61 billion in pending infrastructure in Louisiana.

“This is great news for Louisiana, our 16 state partners in this fight, and the entire country,” Ms. Murrill said. “LNG has an enormous and positive impact on Louisiana, supplying clean energy for the entire world, and providing good jobs here at home. The people of Louisiana are proud to power this nation and the world.”

Biden Says Pause to Address Climate Concerns

In January, the White House ordered the DOE to temporarily stop approving new licenses to export LNG to Asian nations and other countries that aren’t free trade partners with the United States, the top LNG producer and, as of 2023, exporter in the world.

The pause would enable the Biden administration to scrutinize the underlying economic and environmental analyses for the roughly five-year-old authorizations deemed “no longer adequate” in the face of potential energy cost increases and their impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

The moratorium also included exceptions to the pause for “unanticipated and immediate national security emergencies.” The White House said in a fact sheet that it would not be expected to impact the U.S. supply of LNG to allies in the near term.

“In every corner of the country and the world, people are suffering the devastating toll of climate change,” President Biden said in a statement on Jan. 26. “This pause on new LNG approvals sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time.”

The department scrutinized how the shipments affect climate change, the economy, and national security. This meant that pending infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars were at risk.

The Natural Gas Act requires the DOE to act “expeditiously” upon applications for authorization to export natural gas to a foreign country. It also allows the DOE to withhold authorization after a hearing finds that the proposed exportation would “not be consistent with the public interest,” and supported by substantial evidence.

The term public interest is not defined but has long been interpreted to mean “to promote the orderly production of plentiful supplies of … natural gas at just and reasonable rates.”

The coalition of states argued that the temporary moratorium violated the Administrative Procedure Act, Congressional Review Act, and the U.S. Constitution.

Louisiana was joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming in the legal action.

The Epoch Times contacted the DOE for comment.

From The Epoch Times