LNG 'Pause' a Case Study in Hackery

Steven F. Hayward01 Feb, 2024 5 Min Read
Not to mention nutbaggery.

This ought to be a great time for the American chapter of the climate cult. The Biden administration is notably to the left of the Obama administration on climate and energy policy, seeking to regulate more stringently, delivering “green” energy subsidies in amounts Obama could only dream of, and making fresh grandiose climate commitments on the international stage.

But like all fanatics, the climate cult is not satisfied at all. Despite Biden's efforts to strangle oil and natural gas production, domestic U.S. oil and gas output in 2023 set an all-time record. Let’s never forget that as recently as 2012, leading Democrats were predicting that that age of oil was nearly over, and that in any case the U.S. could not “drill its way out” of dependency on foreign oil. But Sarah Palin turned out to be a more accurate prophet of the near future. Perhaps "climate protestors" are perturbed that when they turn out to block roads and deface art in museums they find pro-Hamas demonstrators in larger numbers have beat them to the scene. That would turn any protestor into a curmudgeon.

Those lips, those eyes...

And yet outside of view from the mainstream media, "climate activists" are yelling at the White House and confronting "climate officials" at every opportunity. The New Republic reports that the climate cult and the Democratic Party are on a “collision course” this election year. Angry climate activists heckled and chased out White House “climate adviser” Ali Zaldi at a “Climate Week” event at NYU. During the 2020 campaign Biden told a climate activist, “Look in my eyes. I guarantee you. I guarantee you we’re going to end fossil fuels.”

Even a senile Biden knew this promise was ridiculous, and legal constraints have compelled his administration to approve some oil and gas leases whose permit process began under President Trump. But the climate cult took the pledge literally, and hence their fury. This is the backdrop for the administration’s recent announcement that they are “pausing” further expansion of liquified natural gas (LNG) exports while a “review” of climate impacts takes place. The White House website made clear that this “pause” is merely the first step to what it describes as “banning all new gas exports. This is the most significant move any President has ever made on stopping fossil fuels.”

Blocking a major new LNG export terminal in Louisiana has been high on the climate cult’s target list for months, but it makes no sense even if you are a fanatical devotee to the quixotic cause of decarbonizing energy as rapidly as possible. First, an American LNG export ban will have no effect on the climate. Ben Zycher of the American Enterprise Institute ran the numbers through the EPA’s official climate model, which finds that if the U.S. halted all natural gas exports for the rest of this century, it would lower global temperatures by only 0.013°C—less than one-tenth the normal annual temperature variation. In other words, the effect of the LNG ban would be undetectable.

Second, an LNG ban could actually slow decarbonization of the world’s energy. Natural gas is today the primary backup for wind, solar, and other intermittent and unreliable renewable sources. Already some planned renewable projects in Europe are likely to be delayed because of uncertainty about the price and the availability of natural gas for backup systems. In the absence of a robust natural gas market, many nations will keep coal-fired power plants open for longer, while India and China—both still building coal-fired power at a breakneck pace—will be less likely to scale back coal in favor of gas, which has half the CO2 emissions than coal.

Throwing another spanner in the works.

Third, banning U.S. LNG exports is terrible geopolitical strategy, as it will increase international dependence on Russian and Middle Eastern natural gas. Do we really want to add more market power to Russia and Qatar? Europe overcame Russia’s attempt to use its natural gas as a weapon after the Ukraine War started because American gas helped backfill European supplies. The U.S. supplied half of Europe’s natural gas imports in 2023, a three-fold increase over 2020. “Putin calculated that he could use the gas weapon to shatter the coalition supporting Ukraine,” energy historian Daniel Yergin told Bloomberg reporter Stephen Stapczynski recently; “It failed largely because of LNG.” In fact, right after the war started, President Biden promised to increase U.S. gas supplies to Europe.

Even the German Green party is against a U.S. natural gas export ban for this and the previous two reasons. The Biden diktat has put on hold LNG export contracts from planned additions to U.S. capacity with Germany, Japan, Poland, India, China, and Bangladesh. As with Biden’s precipitous decision to cancel the partially constructed Keystone XL pipeline with our largest trading partner, the administration continues to be heedless of the interests of our allies and rivals.

The (doubtful) merits of the LNG ban make more obvious that this step is political pandering and hackery of the worst kind. This is made clear in the White House statement announcing the “pause.” Normally a significant policy decision of this kind is explained in high-minded, analytical language. The opening paragraph reads:

In every corner of the country and the world, people are suffering the devastating toll of climate change. Historic hurricanes and floods wiping out homes, businesses, and houses of worship. Wildfires destroying whole neighborhoods and forcing families to leave their communities behind. Record temperatures affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans, especially the most vulnerable.

"Climate Advisor" Ali Zaidi puts the kibosh on LNG.

None of these statements is true or backed up by the “official” scientific reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but the media’s army of so-called “fact-checkers” never seem to call out the serial falsehoods and exaggerations of the climate cult. Beyond the shoddy substance of the statement there is also rank partisanship:

While MAGA Republicans willfully deny the urgency of the climate crisis, condemning the American people to a dangerous future, my Administration will not be complacent. We will not cede to special interests.

And the next sentence gives away the whole game:

We will heed the calls of young people and frontline communities who are using their voices to demand action from those with the power to act. [Emphasis added.]

Both the Washington Post and New York Times have reported that White House climate policy advisers recently met with “TikTok influencers” about the LNG issue. It is no secret that the Biden re-election campaign is making TikTok a key communication node. As the Post reports, “The Biden administration has previously worked closely with TikTok creators.” Greta Thunberg may have aged out of her premier climate icon status, but the White House is still letting teenagers dictate our climate policy.

Steven F. Hayward is a resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, and lecturer at Berkeley Law. His most recent book is "M. Stanton Evans: Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom." He writes daily at Powerlineblog.com.


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8 comments on “LNG 'Pause' a Case Study in Hackery”

  1. I have been saying for years that they should "live in caves and eat berries" to show us they have the courage of their convictions.
    That will never happen because they are full of s--t!!!!
    Like all marxist/socialist/communist, USEFUL IDIOTS!!!!

  2. "the climate cult is not happy". . .
    Well, contrived indignation is the great joy of fanatics. My formulation is this: every effort to placate the malcontent is a fools errand.

  3. "While MAGA Republicans willfully deny the urgency ..."

    Why is MAGA used as a derogatory epithet? Is the White House opposed to making America great again?

  4. Sounds like our Justine, Japan and Germany asked him for Natural gas, he told them there was no business case for LNG exports. He has turned down 25 of 28 proposals, and indefinitely slowed the others. They want us dead.

  5. I would like to strand the Eco-Freaks in the Wilderness for a Month and give them a look at real Wilderness not fake pictures from the Sierra Club

  6. Actually stopping US LNG would likely mean more coal burned overseas. I have a tough time believing even Biden is this stupid.

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