White House pauses permits to export natural gas

The growing business of exporting liquified natural gas from, mostly, gulf coast facilities got an election-year detour from the White House. The administration has put the brakes on any new permits, with a pause of approving new exports. 

Environmentalists are cheering, while critics call it an expensive game of politics. Houston energy analyst Andy Lipow believes the effect of the approval pause is minimal, for now, "It does slow down the approval process of at least three major LNG export facilities."

FOX 26 Houston is now on the FOX LOCAL app available through Apple TV, Amazon FireTV, Roku, Google Android TV, and Vizio!

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the nation's export capacity will soon more than double, through projects that already have a green light to proceed. Future investment worth tens of billions of dollars, however, could be in jeopardy. It includes a massive project in Port Arthur, if approval is not secured. At issue are valuable natural gas exports to nations that cannot supply it themselves.

From the White House, President Biden calls the decision a direct response to the toll of climate change, saying, "This pause on new LNG approvals sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time."

In Texas, supporters are encouraged. Melanie Oldham, of Better Brazoria, says, "I hope that this pause is the first of many steps the administration takes in making sure no other LNG terminal gets built." 

Critics, though, say restricting sales to eligible countries is political overreach. 

"Products that are essential to civilization (like) food and fuel, should not be conditioned on permissions from any federal agency," says Mark Mills, of the conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation. 

"These rules to extend the permitting process are really against the economic interests of Texas and Louisiana, who are major suppliers of energy in the form of crude oil, refined products and natural gas," says Lipow.

The White House says existing agreements to supply natural gas to allies, such as Europe, will continue. The pause is designed to update the permitting process, and energy secretary Jennifer Granholm says it should last some months. Critics expect it to last well beyond the November election.