WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Dozens of former officials from the past two Republican U.S. administrations on Monday urged Congress to reverse the Biden administration’s pause on approvals of liquefied natural gas exports, saying the shipments promote global stability.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat, paused approvals of exports of pending and future LNG projects to big markets in Asia and Europe late last month in order to review environmental and economic impacts of the booming business. Biden acted after pressure from environmentalists concerned about greenhouse gas emissions during the LNG lifecycle and pollution from LNG plants near vulnerable communities.
The 35 officials, including Rick Perry and Dan Brouillette, energy secretaries under former President Donald Trump, wrote to lawmakers heading energy and foreign affairs committees in the House of Representatives and Senate.
“It is imperative that we reverse this action and continue to advance our economic, energy, and geopolitical interests while leading on environmental progress,” the former officials said in the letter.
U.S. LNG exports to Europe rose after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, and they are expected to double by the end of the decade on exports already approved.
The U.S. House is set to vote on a bill that would strip the Department of Energy’s power to approve the exports and give it to the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Representative August Pfluger, the sponsor of the bill, said he met with German parliament members last week who were surprised by Biden’s move because they had cut imports of Russian gas.
Handing the decision to FERC, “a more independent organization that can make less partisan decisions, seems to be the only recourse that we have right now,” Pfluger told Reuters.
The legislation would likely struggle in the Senate, controlled by Democrats, and some lawmakers have been wary of it. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat who opposes the pause, told reporters last week he is not looking at “taking anyone’s authority away.”
The letter was also sent to Biden administration officials.
Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk told reporters last week that as the administration talks with allies and partners about the pause, “we feel very comfortable” about their gas supply going forward.
(Reporting by Timothy GardnerEditing by Shri Navaratnam)