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ICYMI: Whip Emmer on counteracting Joe Biden’s Green New Deal agenda

WASHINGTON – In an exclusive statement to Fox News, Majority Whip Tom Emmer discussed House Republicans’ passage of the Unlocking Domestic LNG Potential Act introduced by Rep. August Pfluger (TX-11). This legislation reverses the Biden administration’s de facto ban on U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports which directly benefits Russia and Iran, kills American jobs, and undermines American energy security. 

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Fox News
Thomas Catenacci
February 15, 2024

The House voted Thursday afternoon in favor of stripping the Biden administration's authority to permit natural gas export projects in a blow to the president's climate agenda.

In a 224-200 vote, the House approved the so-called Unlocking Domestic LNG Potential Act, with 215 Republicans and nine Democrats voting in favor. 

Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, who chairs the House Energy Action Team, introduced the legislation on Feb. 1, arguing that it would ultimately overturn President Biden's recent actions pausing permits for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects.

"Just last year, President Biden told the Europeans that they needed to get off Russian gas and that the U.S. would supply their liquid natural gas needs. Now that it is an election year, he is reneging on that deal to appease his radical climate base," Pfluger told Fox News Digital ahead of the vote.

"Two-thirds of the world’s natural gas is produced in four countries: Russia, Iran, the United States, and Qatar. This effective ban on U.S. LNG exports is a gift to Putin and the Iranian regime that just killed three service members with their weapons to the Houthis," the Texas lawmaker continued. "I am proud to stand up for American jobs when the president seems to only stand up for the interests of Russia and Iran."

Pfluger also noted that Russian natural gas is 40% dirtier than U.S. gas, adding that Biden's recent moratorium on LNG exports is a "horrible decision for the environment."

If enacted, Pfluger's bill would amend the Natural Gas Act of 1938, giving the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) exclusive authority to approve or deny applications for the siting, construction, expansion or operation of LNG export projects. 

And in approving or rejecting permits, FERC would be required under the bill to "deem the importation or exportation of natural gas to be consistent with the public interest."

"Joe Biden would rather appease the radical environmentalists in his party than protect hardworking Americans. House Republicans will not stand idly by while the Biden administration’s Green New Deal agenda destroys American jobs, stifles American energy, and benefits our adversaries," House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., told Fox News Digital in a statement.

Currently, FERC conducts a rigorous economic and environmental review of LNG export projects. However, following FERC's review, the Department of Energy (DOE) is tasked with determining whether such projects, which export LNG to non-free trade agreement countries, serve the national interest and giving the final approval.

Late last month, Biden ordered the DOE to pause pending permits for LNG export facilities while it conducts a rigorous environmental review as part of the agency's national interest analysis, assessing the projects' carbon emissions. That review could take more than a year to complete.

Energy associations, Republicans and former federal officials blasted the actions, arguing that LNG exports are critical for maintaining low energy prices in the U.S., helping American allies to wean off Russian gas and decreasing global carbon emissions. They have noted that, in December 2023, more than 87% of U.S. LNG exports went to Europe, U.K., or Asian markets previously reliant on Russia.

"Allies and trading partners around the world rely on clean, reliable, and affordable U.S. natural gas for energy and economic security, and to advance environmental progress through emission reductions," said Marty Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute, which endorsed the Unlocking Domestic LNG Potential Act.

"With Europe still relying on Russia for nearly 15 percent of its natural gas consumption, and global demand expected to increase for several decades, continued expansion of U.S. export capacity is essential to American interests," Durbin added.

But environmental activist groups and Democrats have criticized the legislation, arguing that stripping DOE of its authority to permit LNG exports would exacerbate climate change and mainly benefit Chinese industry.

"Make no mistake: if this bill ever became law, Americans would pay more for the gas that heats their homes and keeps their lights on. It is an affront to middle-class families who cannot afford to deal with more fossil fuel price volatility," remarked House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who said the bill would "enrich China."

According to the most recent federal data, though, just 6.7% of U.S. LNG exports are shipped to China. The vast majority of exports are sent to Europe, which has relied on U.S. natural gas to wean itself off Russian energy amid the Ukraine war, and other Asian countries like Japan and South Korea.

The legislation now makes its way to the Senate, where Banking Committee Ranking Member Tim Scott, R-S.C., introduced companion legislation alongside 16 fellow Republicans. The White House, however, said Biden would veto the bill if it was passed.

"The Administration believes that the critical protections current law provides, which this legislation would repeal, should be retained to protect residential and industrial consumers and national and domestic energy security," the White House said Tuesday.