More than 40 congressional Democrats urged the Biden administration, in a letter released Monday, to consider the possible environmental risk of liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion.
Forty-four senators and representatives wrote to Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), calling on her to develop specific best practices for the LNG infrastructure approval process.
Specifically, the members expressed concerns that CEQ assesses LNG permits based on a Trump-era framework that does not address upstream methane emissions. The 2020 changes to the assessment process barred the CEQ from considering the indirect environmental impacts of permitting.
Although methane dissipates faster in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it is also about 25 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere, making it a particular concern as a driver of climate change.
The letter was led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Reps. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), Jared Huffman (Calif.) and Nanette Díaz Barragán (Calif.).
“Our ability to combat the worst impacts of the climate crisis depends, to a significant degree, on whether the United States approves proposed LNG pipeline and export terminal projects on top of the already-substantial LNG infrastructure,” the members wrote.
“CEQ’s guidance should include examples and best practices for how agencies should conduct meaningful engagement to ensure that relevant agencies conduct a proper and adequate analysis of the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of LNG infrastructure,” they added.
U.S. production of LNG has dramatically expanded in recent years, particularly for export to European nations seeking an alternative to the Russian oil they relied on before the invasion of Ukraine. Exports rose to an average of 10.6 billion cubic feet per day last year, a 9 percent increase from 2021, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which projects a daily average of 12.1 billion per day this year.
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