Biden administration’s LNG export ban challenged by 16 states in lawsuit

Elizabeth Elkin, Madlin Mekelburg and Ari Natter, Bloomberg March 21, 2024

(Bloomberg) – Texas, Louisiana and more than a dozen other U.S. states challenged the Biden administration’s suspension of new licenses to export liquified natural gas (LNG) via ocean-going tankers.

A lawsuit filed against President Joe Biden and the U.S. Department of Energy in Louisiana federal court on Thursday asks a judge to overturn the temporary pause. The action supported by 16 state attorneys general, argues the administration runs counter to Congressional intent and decades of policy.

“The ban will drive billions of dollars in investment away from Texas, hinder our ability to maximize revenue for public schools, force Texas producers to flare excess natural gas instead of taking it to market, and annihilate critical jobs,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a statement.

The Energy Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. LNG is gas that has been super-cooled to transform it into a liquid so it can be loaded onto tankers and shipped around the world.

The Biden administration announced in late January it was halting new licenses to export LNG so it could study how the shipments affect climate change, the economy and national security.

The White House’s move struck at the heart of the debate over the future of energy. While advocates contend gas is crucial for discouraging coal use in developing nations, environmentalists warn that building the enormous infrastructure required to facilitate the LNG trade ensures it will be burned for generations to come.

The pause will “disrupt the development and production of natural gas and gives us no choice but to turn to the courts to enforce the law,” Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill wrote in a statement after the filing.

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