A cargo ship on the ocean carrying liquid natural gas.

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What are the environmental consequences of natural gas exports? How is the Biden administration tackling the trade-off between increased natural gas exports and climate change goals?

The Biden administration has temporarily suspended approval of natural gas exports to non-free trade agreement countries. As Democrats prepare for the 2024 presidential election, they must balance the economic benefits of increasing natural gas exports with fulfilling climate change pledges.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of Biden’s natural gas suspension.

Biden’s Natural Gas Conundrum

In a policy maneuver aimed at safeguarding the environment, in January the Biden administration temporarily suspended approval of liquefied natural gas exports to non-free trade agreement countries. The move comes as Biden prepares for the 2024 presidential election and attempts to balance increasing natural gas exports with aggressive climate change goals. Here’s a look at Biden’s natural gas suspension.


Liquefied natural gas (LNG), which consists of methane, burns more cleanly than coal, making it a seemingly more eco-friendly alternative. But methane presents considerable environmental challenges, including that its emissions are 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in their initial 20 years in the atmosphere. It can also leak at any stage, from production to use in the home. 

Expanding LNG exports presents a dilemma for the Biden administration, which has also committed to meeting ambitious climate goals. These include reducing emissions by 50% by 2030, achieving 100% carbon-free power by 2035, and stimulating green infrastructure and job growth, with the broader aim of positioning the US as the global climate change leader.

Balancing Climate Goals With Gas Production 

As Democrats prepare for the 2024 presidential election, they face the critical challenge of balancing the economic benefits of increasing natural gas exports against the cost of fulfilling climate change pledges.  

To date, the White House has defended its increased fossil fuel production and export as a transitional necessity that supports the US and allies’ shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and electric vehicles. Despite these justifications, the president’s tightrope act is muddied by a host of complications:

  • Policy and practice contradictions.  Every new export terminal approval that the White House grants hampers its efforts to curb fossil fuel reliance and the global transition to cleaner alternatives.
  • Climate change acceleration. Studies indicate that expanding LNG production and export will exacerbate climate change. 
  • Delayed renewable progress abroad. While increased reliance on natural gas powers could displace high-emission coal power abroad in the short term, this commitment could put developing nations’ renewable progress on hold for decades.
  • Job losses. The fossil fuel industry is anticipated to shed 700,000 jobs in the transition to clean energy sources.
  • Price surges. Increasing exports could send so much gas abroad that it triggers a spike in US consumer prices.  
  • Public health harms. Residents living near LNG production facilities are often subjected to increased pollution and emissions.
  • Unrealized carbon capture. Thus far, the fossil fuel industry claims that the sector can mitigate climate impacts through carbon capture technology, which traps greenhouse gasses emitted when fossil fuels are burned, have fallen short.

Biden’s LNG Export Pause

In announcing on January 26 that he would temporarily halt approvals for applications to export LNG to non-free trade agreement countries, Biden cited environmental concerns and committed to updating outdated economic and environmental analyses currently used for authorization.

Environmental advocates hailed the pause as a significant step towards addressing the climate crisis and transition from fossil fuels. 

Fossil fuel industry leaders and some Republicans criticized the decision, arguing that it will hinder economic growth and strengthen Russian influence over global energy markets.

Biden’s Natural Gas Suspension: Environment vs. Economy

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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