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16 states, led by Gulf states, sue Biden administration over LNG export ban

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Sixteen states have sued the Biden administration over its proposed liquified natural gas ban, led by Louisiana and Texas, the Gulf states that lead the U.S. in LNG exports.

The lawsuit was filed by Louisiana Attorney General Elizabeth Murrill and 15 state attorneys general in the U.S. District Court Western District of Louisiana.

It was filed in response to the Biden administration announcing it was implementing a temporary pause on pending decisions on exports of LNG to non-Free Trade Agreement countries until the Department of Energy updates “underlying analyses for authorizations.” It did so, it argued, because current LNG export authorizations “no longer adequately account for considerations like potential energy cost increases for American consumers and manufacturers beyond current authorizations or the latest assessment of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Other reasons given for the ban were “the perilous impacts of methane on our planet” and to “adequately guard against risks to the health of our communities, especially frontline communities in the United States who disproportionately shoulder the burden of pollution from new export facilities.”

The claims have been disproven by multiple reports, The Center Square has reported.

The lawsuit notes that the president is following “the same playbook to unlawfully ban new liquified natural gas” after he “began his presidency by issuing an unlawful moratorium on offshore and onshore oil-and-gas leasing.”

The LNG ban “disregards statutory mandates, flouts the normal regulatory process, upends the industry, disrupts Plaintiffs’ economies, and subverts our constitutional structure,” the brief states. “These unlawful actions leave Plaintiffs with no choice but to once more turn to the courts to enforce the law.”

It also cites the U.S. Department of Energy stating last July that “there is no factual or legal basis” for the ban to “halt approval of pending applications to export LNG.” The agency also denied an environmental coalition’s petition asking it to “[g]rant no more licenses for LNG export . . . until it has completed a final revision of its policy guidelines … on LNG export.”

“Now – in the midst of an election year, and after a sustained pressure campaign from billionaire conglomerates, celebrities, ‘influencers,’ and banks – the Biden Administration acts as if its July 2023 Decision does not exist,” the brief states. “The Administration likewise ignores the Natural Gas Act’s presumption in favor of exports, decades of agency policy, and State and private reliance on exports.”

The lawsuit argues the ban violates the Natural Gas Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. It asks the court to grant a preliminary injunction to block it from going into effect.

In 2017, the U.S. became a net exporter of natural gas for the first time since 1957, “primarily because of increased LNG exports,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. As domestic natural gas demand increased by 43% from 2012 to 2022, Texas and Louisiana increased output by 116%, The Center Square reported. Over the decade, Texas and Louisiana increased natural gas output and developed new LNG export terminals to rapidly scale LNG production.

The U.S. became the world’s largest LNG exporter in the first half of 2022, according to the EIA, led by Texas. This was largely because Gulf states “provided a lifeline” to Europe after the energy market was destabilized by “green energy” policies and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, a Texans for Natural Gas report found.

The U.S. exported more natural gas in the first six months of 2023 than in any other previous six-month period, led by the Gulf states of Texas and Louisiana, The Center Square reported. Texas is currently the leading producer of LNG in the U.S., producing roughly a quarter of America’s natural gas, which is also a low carbon fuel source.

States joining Louisiana are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.