Federal Judge Stays Biden’s LNG Export Application Pause
Calcasieu Pass LNG Facility
Calcasieu Pass LNG Facility | Venture Global LNG
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The U.S. District Court for Western Louisiana issued a stay on the Biden administration’s pause in considering new applications for LNG export facilities. 

The U.S. District Court for Western Louisiana on July 1 issued a stay on the Biden administration’s pause in considering new applications for LNG export facilities. 

The decision from Judge James Cain approved a motion from 16 Republican state attorneys general, led by Louisiana’s Liz Murrill. 

President Joe Biden announced the pause in processing new applications to export gas to non-free-trade-agreement (FTA) countries this January in order for the Department of Energy to update its approval process and study the impact of additional LNG export facilities. 

The pause did not impact applications that already were moving through the process, including Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass 2 project being planned for Cameron Parish, La., that FERC approved last week at its monthly open meeting (CP22-21, CP22-22). The project, which still must be approved by DOE, would be able to export 20 million metric tons per year. Commissioner Allison Clements dissented from the approval because she said the commission failed to fully consider the project’s greenhouse gas emissions and its impact on the local fishing industry. 

Cain noted in his decision the pause in processing new applications was done without any publication in the Federal Register that explained or justified it and that DOE has not opened any rulemaking related to it. 

“The defendants’ choice to halt permits to export natural gas to foreign companies is quite complexing to this court,” Cain wrote. “Defendants remark that the purpose is to update its information as to how these exports to non-FTA countries might affect the economy and inherently consumers of natural gas here in the United States, and the effect on the environment. However, … DOE has made updates to its studies on several occasions without the president making an announcement of an unprecedented climate change action, and without … DOE declaring a wholesale ‘pause’ on pending current and future applications of exports to non-FTA countries.” 

Cain wrote that “it is undisputed that natural gas is cleaner than coal” and that gas being cheaper leads to reduced coal use around the world. Thus, “it appears that … DOE’s decision to halt the permit approval process for entities to export LNG to non-FTA countries is completely without reason or logic and is perhaps the epiphany of ideocracy,” he wrote. 

The court agreed with the AGs that their states would face irreparable harm from the pause because of lost revenue and market share. They also were deprived of a procedural right because the policy was not properly announced under the Administrative Procedure Act’s processes, it found. 

Murill welcomed the court’s ruling. 

“As Judge Cain mentioned in his ruling, there is roughly $61 billion of pending infrastructure at risk to our state from this illegal pause,” Murill 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 Sierra Club noted that the stay does not require authorization of new facilities, but DOE will have to continue its review of pending projects that were paused. DOE also can continue working on its review of what analysis the “public interest determination” requires for approval of LNG facilities. 

“Deciding whether or not to approve LNG export applications has serious consequences for how much Americans pay for energy and whether there is clean air and water to support healthy local communities and ensure thriving local industries, like fishing,” Sierra Club Staff Attorney Louisa Eberle said. “DOE has the authority — and obligation — to adequately review the true impacts of LNG exports, and we believe they will come to the same conclusion we have, which is that expanded LNG exports are not in the public interest and the pending applications should be denied.” 

Department of EnergyEnvironmental RegulationsFederal Energy Regulatory CommissionLouisianaLouisianaNatural GasNatural Gas

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