Photo: Matt Houston Associated Press Seven LNG export terminals are operational in the United States, including Cove Point, Maryland.
Thomas Urbain – Agence France-Presse in Washington
- United States
US President Joe Biden on Friday announced a moratorium on the construction of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, citing the climate “threat”, a setback for an accelerating industry.
“This pause on LNG (terminal) permits takes into account what the climate crisis really is: an existential threat,” the US head of state wrote in a statement.
The announcement comes as the presidential campaign is fully launched.
A face-to-face meeting seems inevitable between Joe Biden, who notably pushed through a massive plan to finance the energy transition in 2022, and Donald Trump, who questions the very principle of global warming despite scientific consensus.
“MAGA Republicans (Donald Trump's slogan) deny the urgency of the climate crisis, condemning the American people to a dangerous future, my government will not stand by,” said Joe Biden. “We will not give in to special interests. »
“As exports increase, we must review export applications in light of the most current economic, environmental and national security analyses,” Secretary of State said. 'Energy, Jennifer Granholm, during a conference call.
Boosted by the surge in shale gas production, the United States is already the world's leading exporter of LNG, according to data published by the international organization Cedigaz for the first half of 2023.
Seven LNG export terminals are already operational in the United States, servicing approximately 328 million cubic meters per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
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No new export permits will be issued until the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) updates its analysis of each project, Granholm said.
According to an American official, updating the approval criteria should take several months.
Immediately, four files currently being examined by the DOE are affected by the suspension, said the same source.
Other projects are in progress but have not yet been submitted to the department and will not be presented to it during the moratorium.
As it stands, the new terminals in the making were expected to increase U.S. export capacity to 1.35 billion cubic meters per day, according to the secretary.
Anticipating a moratorium, mentioned by several American media, the environmental defense organization Sierra Club estimated that such a decision “would represent a positive and significant change in policy”.
At the beginning of December, on the sidelines of the COP28 climate conference, more than 250 environmental organizations and groups asked Joe Biden to no longer authorize new LNG terminals, recalling that gas natural was a polluting fossil energy.
In a letter addressed Thursday to Jennifer Granholm, several bodies representing the American energy sector asked the secretary to waive this moratorium.
They argued in particular that the natural gas industry created jobs in the United States and made it possible to secure supplies to Europe, deprived of Russian gas since the embargo following the invasion of Ukraine.
Last year, about half of LNG exports went to Europe, according to the White House.
The moratorium “would undermine U.S. credibility and threaten American jobs,” the group argued.
“We need to better understand market needs, long-term demand and supply, as well as environmental factors,” argued Jennifer Granholm, who assured that projects already authorized would not be subject to review. re-examination.
“This will not affect our current or short-term offering,” the manager insisted.
“We are committed to strengthening the energy security of the United States and our allies,” she said, as well as “protecting Americans from climate change, while being at the cutting edge of the transition to clean energy.”