House to Vote on Reversing Biden’s Natural Gas-Export Freeze

(Bloomberg) -- The US House of Representatives will vote on overturning the Biden administration’s freeze on liquefied natural gas export approvals, a top Republican said Wednesday.

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The vote will take place the week after next, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said during an interview.

“We do have legislation to lift the ban on LNG,” Rodgers said. “It addresses barriers to exports right now.”

The White House announced Friday it was halting approval of new licenses to export LNG while it scrutinizes how the shipments affect climate change, the economy and national security — a moratorium likely to disrupt plans for billions of dollars in planned developments.

The announcement drew the ire of industry as well as top Republicans — including House Speaker Mike Johnson, who called the move “as outrageous as it is subversive” while empowering adversaries like Russia.

While a stand-alone measure would likely be dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate, it’s possible the issue could emerge as a Republican rider on a emergency-aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan sought by Democrats.

Read More: Biden Freezes Licenses to Export Gas, Imperiling Projects

Among the potential bills being considered is a measure that would strip the Energy Department of a role in granting LNG-export licenses and delegate that authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The legislation, known as the Unlocking Our Domestic LNG Potential Act, was approved by the committee last year, and various versions have been included in broader House-passed legislation. It would require FERC to deem the export or import of gas to be consistent with the public interest.

The measure, which would benefit LNG shippers such as Sempra, has the support of trade groups including the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the National Ocean Industries Association, which earlier this week sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging them to move the bill. The Senate version of the bill was introduced Wednesday by South Carolina Republican Tim Scott and 16 other Republicans.

“Removing DOE from the process will help to ensure that political maneuvers will not interfere with energy supplies,” they wrote. “It is vital that Congress send an immediate message to our allies, and enemies, abroad that US LNG will continue to flow uninterrupted for many years to come.”

Frontline environmental leaders, meanwhile, gathered on Capitol Hill Thursday to declare victory, prior to a White House meeting with officials that were set to include President Joe’s Biden climate adviser Ali Zaidi, Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk and other administration officials, Roishetta Ozane, the founder of the Vessel Project of Louisiana, said in an interview.

Climate activists and others have stepped up pressure to stem the construction of new multibillion dollar LNG export terminals they say will prolong the world’s reliance on natural gas while discouraging cleaner alternatives.

“We are very happy with their decision, but the fight must continue,” Ozane said during a press conference to celebrate the Biden administration’s move.

(Updates with industry letter of support, White House meeting)

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