US Judge Halts Biden Administration’s Pause on LNG Permits

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(Reuters, 1.Jul.2024) — A federal judge on Monday dealt President Joe Biden’s climate agenda a setback by blocking the Democrat’s administration from continuing to pause the approval of applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG).

U.S. District Judge James Cain in Lake Charles, Louisiana, sided with 16 Republican-led states in holding that the U.S. Department of Energy‘s freeze on approvals of LNG exports was “completely without reason or logic.”

Cain, an appointee of Republican former President Donald Trump, said the states were likely to succeed in showing the pause contravened the Natural Gas Act and was arbitrary, capricious, and unconstitutional.

Cain said the department’s actions were “above and beyond its scope of authority.” He said he had “reviewed the voluminous studies attached as exhibits, all of which boast of both the economic and environmental benefits of exporting natural gas.”

An Energy Department spokesperson said it disagreed with the ruling and is evaluating next steps.

The Biden administration announced the pause in January, which it said would allow officials to review the process for analyzing economic and environmental impacts of projects seeking approval to export LNG to Europe and Asia where the fuel is in high demand.

The January move was cheered by climate activists, an important part of Biden’s base, and could have delayed decisions on new plants until after the Nov. 5 presidential election, when Biden will face off against Trump.

Republican-led states including Texas, Louisiana and Florida, sued in March, arguing the policy would harm the economy and undermine efforts to supply foreign allies in Europe with steady supplies of LNG as the region seeks to wean itself off piped gas from Russia.

The states argued that the pause on new approvals for LNG exports oversteps the DOE’s authority under the Natural Gas Act, which they said requires the agency to affirmatively show projects are inconsistent with the public interest before denying applications.

The states also argued the ban jeopardizes billions of dollars in investments planned to build export facilities.


Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington and Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi, Leslie Adler and Lincoln Feast

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