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Republican states sue over Biden natural gas export hold

Texas joined 15 other GOP-controlled states in a lawsuit challenging the veracity of the Biden administration’s pause on permit approval for liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects.

President Joe Biden announced the pause back in January, to be enrolled by the Department of Energy.

“This ban disregards statutory mandates, flouts the normal regulatory process, upends the industry, disrupts Plaintiffs’ economies, and subverts our constitutional structure,” the states contend in the lawsuit, led by Louisiana.

“Just months ago, the Department acknowledged that ‘there is no factual or legal basis’ for exactly what the LNG Export Ban does — ‘halt approval of pending applications to export LNG. Now — in the midst of an election year, and after a sustained pressure campaign from billionaire conglomerates, celebrities, ‘influencers,’ and banks — the Biden Administration acts as if its July 2023 Decision does not exist.”

It continues, “[T]he whims of activists cannot override the Natural Gas Act’s clear command that the Secretary ‘shall issue’ an export license ‘unless, after opportunity for hearing, [the Secretary] finds that the proposed exportation or importation will not be consistent with the public interest.’”

The pause was originally set to run through the election, though its full lifespan is unclear. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Monday in Houston that, “By the time we meet here at this place next year, it’s going to be long in the rear-view mirror.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said of the lawsuit, “Biden’s unilateral decree disregards statutory mandates, flouts the legal process, upends the oil and gas industry, disrupts the Texas economy, and subverts our constitutional structure.”

“The ban will drive billions of dollars in investment away from Texas, hinder our ability to maximize revenue for public schools, force Texas producers to flare excess natural gas instead of taking it to market, and annihilate critical jobs. I will not stand by while Biden attacks Texas.”

The plaintiffs asked the court to rule the maneuver illegitimate both on procedural grounds as per the Administrative Procedure Act and on the merits relating to the Natural Gas Act. They also ask for a permanent injunction against the administration issuing another such directive at any point in the future.

Following the oil and gas export ban’s lift in 2015 — part of an appropriations bill deal between House Republicans and President Barack Obama — LNG exports from the U.S. skyrocketed, nearly reaching 4,000 billion cubic feet in 2022.

There are currently six existing or under-development LNG export facilities in Texas, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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