Overwhelming Bipartisan Opposition: Sen. Bennet Joins Vocal Colorado Chorus Against Biden’s LNG Export Ban 

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) added his name to a growing bipartisan coalition against the Biden administration’s decision to halt approvals of new LNG export terminals. Reuters reports:   

“Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet opposes President Joe Biden’s decision to pause approvals of new exports of liquefied natural gas, saying on Sunday that it could undercut U.S. efforts to supply gas to Europe as it replaces Russian exports. 

Bennet’s comments were a sign that Biden faces dissent from his fellow Democrats on the move, which attempts to balance his climate goals with support for Europe during Russia’s war on Ukraine.” 

Bennet, speaking on Fox News Sunday, called Biden’s move “short-sighted” given Europe will simply look elsewhere to nations like Qatar to meet their energy needs:   

“I actually don’t support what President Biden is doing there. I think it’s been very important for American liquefied natural gas to replace the natural gas that Russia was sending to Europe. I think it’s important for us to have the benefit of selling that natural gas versus other countries like Qatar in this world. And so I believe one of the United States’ massive strategic strengths is our energy, our clean energy and our fossil fuels. And I think that’s a short-sighted decision.” 

Bennet’s criticism of Biden on this matter is especially relevant given the growing chorus of Democrats breaking with Biden on LNG exports, as well as the Colorado Senator’s own progressive turn on a host of issues in recent years 

Big name Senate Democrats, including the likes of Senators Cardin, Casey, Fetterman, Manchin, and Hickenlooper, have all expressed varying degrees of unease with the Biden administration on this issue and its threat to global energy security and emission reduction goals.   

Bennet Latest Colorado Democrat to Oppose Biden’s LNG Pause 

Bennet is the latest Democrat from Colorado to express disagreement with the administration’s LNG export pause, joining Sen. John Hickenlooper. First term Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo, who faces a highly competitive reelection in Colorado’s eighth Congressional district after prevailing by less than 2000 votes in 2022, also recently signed a letter with Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn blasting Biden’s decision:  

Caraveo was one of a handful of House Democrats to support recent legislation that would reverse the Biden administration’s LNG permitting decision. The freshman Congresswoman’s LNG stance represents a significant shift from her record in Colorado’s General Assembly where she was a prime sponsor of SB-181, which overhauled a host of Colorado energy regulations in 2019.  

While the bill reversing Biden’s LNG pause now advances to the U.S. Senate, neither Colorado Senators Bennet or Hickenlooper have indicated how they plan to vote.   

Divide Between Colorado’s Congressional Delegation and Legislators Pushing Fracking Ban 

The rhetoric from the vast majority of Colorado’s Congressional delegation on the merits of natural gas exports contrasts greatly with a new effort underway in Colorado’s General Assembly to ban fracking by 2030 

One of SB-159’s sponsors, Boulder State Rep. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, told the Denver Gazette last week their effort is driven, in part, by opposition to Colorado energy exports:  

DG: “I suppose the argument would be that the profits, the part that’s not profits, the operating expenses, stays in Colorado and that if you cut production by 40 percent or 75 percent because it can’t be exported, that’s going to have an impact, is it not?” 

Jaquez Lewis: “No, we’re just asking why is it being exported? It’s our state resources. Why are they exporting it? Why are we not able to have it here for Colorado because it’s a finite energy? That’s our question.” (emphasis added) 

Dan Haley, President of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, pointed out some Democrats’ hostility to natural gas exports in the Colorado General Assembly is difficult to square with Sen. Bennet’s recent defense of LNG exports:  

As Bennet and others have pointed out, natural gas exports contribute to America’s energy security and allow European allies to replace Russian energy amid the war in Ukraine – all while simultaneously keeping prices stable for Coloradans and contributing to emission reduction goals.  

Restricting energy exports, particularly from a state like Colorado with some of the strongest environmental regulations in the nation, only guarantees energy produced elsewhere will fill the market gap to meet demand. 

A hearing date for SB-159 has not officially been set. Gov. Jared Polis also has yet to weigh in on the bill as well, potentially indicating it could face similar bipartisan opposition.  

Bottom Line: Sen. Bennet’s opposition to Biden’s LNG export ban is the latest sign of growing bipartisan dissent against the administration’s myopic decision to curtail future energy exports to America’s allies – and within the state, his voice adds to the growing chorus boosting clean, Colorado energy.   

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