Appalachian Basin Swiftly Rebukes Biden Administration’s LNG Moratorium
The Appalachian Basin produces more natural gas than most countries, with the region’s rich resources playing a major role in ensuring energy security, grid reliability and emission reductions. Therefore, it’s no surprise that leaders in the region from across the aisle have come out strongly against the Biden administration’s recent moratorium on LNG export approvals as a threat to these shared goals.
Perhaps most telling is the reaction from Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman (D) – who once supported a fracking ban – now raising the alarm about the administration’s LNG pause, indicating the clear importance of the issue in the country’s second-largest-natural-gas-producing state.
Sen. Fetterman emphasized the need for President Biden to “rethink that, or to remind them just of why this is so important…to make a different decision.” He continued, in a joint statement with Pennsylvania’s senior Senator Bob Casey (D) to the Washington Examiner:
“While the immediate impacts on Pennsylvania remain to be seen, we have concerns about the long-term impacts that this pause will have on the thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry. If this decision puts Pennsylvania energy jobs at risk, we will push the Biden Administration to reverse this decision.”
In an interview with E&E News, Fetterman added:
“Sen. Casey and I are very pro-energy, pro-job, pro-union and pro-American security. I am very clear. Natural gas is necessary right now. I know we are going to eventually continue to migrate towards more and more green energy, but right now it’s critical.” (emphasis added)
In West Virginia, both Senators have rebuked the pause. Sen. Joe Manchin immediately promised to hold a hearing (scheduled for this upcoming Thursday) examining the impacts of the ban and demanding “evidence” of the alleged climate impacts.
“If this pause is just another political ploy to pander to keep-it-in-the-ground climate activists at the expense of American workers, businesses and our allies in need, I will do everything in my power to end this pause immediately.”
“It seems to be a universal thought that this is a hat-tip to his young environmental community that he fears he is losing in this election…So, purely political reasons.”
“We’re going to keep pounding the president on this, because honestly, it’s an economic blow of large proportions. And also just a geopolitical mistake, in terms of the international security.”
Elsewhere in the Basin, Ohio Senator J.D Vance (R) joined Pennsylvania Republican Representatives Guy Reschenthaler, Dan Meuser and Lloyd Smucker in a letter to President Biden stating that reversing the LNG pause is “not just a strategic imperative but also an economic necessity,” while also highlighting the environmental benefits of Appalachian natural gas:
“It is important to note that American natural gas, especially from the Marcellus Shale region, is produced in a manner that is cleaner than anywhere else in the world, reflecting our collective commitment to high environmental standards in energy production.”
“Our allies depend on a secure and reliable source of LNG, and by withholding approvals, we risk pushing them into the arms of less stable and potentially adversarial suppliers. This decision not only threatens the energy security of our allies but also undermines our geopolitical standing and influence in an increasingly competitive global energy market.”
Also in Ohio, Republican Reps. Troy Balderson and Bob Latta, both serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, criticized the decision:
The Biden Admin's proposed moratorium on new natural gas projects will cripple American LNG exports that are vital for our allies transitioning away from Russian energy.
Caving to climate activists is election-year politics, plain and simple.https://t.co/FPzuPWEtNI
— Congressman Troy Balderson (@RepBalderson) January 25, 2024
My full statement on the Biden administration's decision to halt LNG exports: pic.twitter.com/6sXiWqWccC
— U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (@boblatta) January 26, 2024
Conspicuously absent in Ohio, however, is U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D) who is typically in lock-step with President Biden’s agenda, but has in the past criticized the administration’s moves surrounding natural gas. In a state like Ohio – during an election year – putting natural gas on the ballot as this decision could do, could have far reaching implications for Brown in an already vulnerable reelection year.
As evidence of this, former Ohio Democratic Representative and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Ryan, admitted in a post on X that the LNG export halt is “a major political issue that the Democrats have just put themselves squarely on the wrong side” that will have major ramifications in swing states.
And there it is friends. A major policy and political issue that the D’s have just put themselves squarely on the wrong side. LNG has helped us totally displace coal & make major reductions in CO2. You’ll hear lots of this in NV and PA and MI and WI and AZ. Walked right into… https://t.co/NsHfK3LR9r
— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) January 28, 2024
Industry groups across the Basin also quickly rebuked the decision. The Marcellus Shale Coalition and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association signed on to a letter from industry groups, including the Independent Petroleum Association of America and American Petroleum Institute, stating that any decision to limit export approvals would be “a major mistake that puts American jobs and allies at risk while undermining global climate goals.”
The letter continues:
“Our industry is proud to support our allies and global emissions goals, but the geopolitical and climate benefits of American energy exports cannot be maintained with a regulatory regime that moves at the whims of political pressure.”
The Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia has also been vocal against the effort. Charlie Burd, Executive Director of GO-WV said in part:
“Widely recognized as the most strategic and effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, LNG is an essential resource that supports America’s fundamental goals of improving the environment, increasing energy access and supporting job and economic growth here at home.”
In response to @POTUS' announcement of a pause on approvals for pending & future applications to export LNG from new projects, GO-WV's Charlie Burd issued the following statement⤵️ pic.twitter.com/Y0LhdbIRXq
— GO-WV (@GasOilWV) January 26, 2024
The swift reaction from leaders across the spectrum demonstrates the importance natural gas has in the Appalachian Basin – especially during an election year when voters overwhelmingly support American energy – and showcases why anti-fossil-fuel efforts, from misguided policy to frivolous litigation efforts, are dead on arrival across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Bottom Line: The Biden administration’s decision to halt LNG export approvals has been met with swift rebuke. From the Appalachian Basin, to Colorado and Western leaders, to allies around the globe, there is widespread consensus that U.S. LNG is a critical geopolitical tool that advances U.S. interests, ensures global energy security, and helps advance environmental goals.