Energy & Environment

Biden administration OKs Alaska natural gas exports, drawing progressive ire

The Biden administration on Thursday greenlit natural gas exports from a facility in Alaska, drawing ire from progressives who were already frustrated over the administration’s prior approval of a major oil drilling project in the state. 

The Energy Department reaffirmed a Trump-era decision to allow a company called Alaska LNG to export liquified natural gas (LNG) produced in the state to countries with which the U.S. doesn’t have a free trade agreement. 

The department had previously agreed to a request from the Sierra Club to conduct further study of the project’s environmental impacts, saying that it would either reaffirm, alter or “set-aside” the Trump-era order. 

It ultimately found, however, that the environmental impacts it identified “are not sufficient” to change the past determination approving the exports. 

But it does add an environmental stipulation: Alaska LNG will have to certify every month that it did not use a practice called venting in which excess gas is released into the air and contributes to climate change. 

In a statement, the department characterized its move as “amending a 2020 decision to impose new environmental requirements.”

The Energy Department also noted that the project may or may not ever ultimately be built, saying that the “Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) is developing an Alaska LNG project and has not yet reached a final investment decision on whether to construct the project at all.”

But the reaffirmation still rankled both environmental advocates and congressional progressives.

“Allowing LNG exports is yet another way @POTUS is putting our kids’ futures in jeopardy,” tweeted Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) 

“The recent choices of this administration have been reckless, irresponsible, and uninformed. Our kids deserve a livable future and you are throwing it away.”

It comes after the Biden administration last month approved the Willow Project – which will allow ConocoPhillips to drill for 576 million barrels of oil in Alaska over a 30-year period.

“This is not the climate presidency that Joe Biden promised,” said Lukas Ross, program manager at Friends of the Earth. “Does the administration intend to rubber stamp a carbon bomb every month?” 

Last year, the Biden administration also expanded LNG exports to Europe as part of an effort to counter Russia, the world’s second largest producer of natural gas.

In a statement, Alaska Gasline Development Corporation President Frank Richards said that the project “will provide Alaskans and U.S. allies with a significant source of low-emissions, responsibly produced energy.” 

Tags Alaska Biden administration Energy Department Joe Biden Oil drilling Trump administration

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