Opinion: Biden bows to Putin and environmentalists

File photo/Brandon Thibodeaux/The New York Times / A LNG tanker docked at Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass LNG facility in Cameron, La., on Dec. 12, 2023.
File photo/Brandon Thibodeaux/The New York Times / A LNG tanker docked at Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass LNG facility in Cameron, La., on Dec. 12, 2023.

President Joe Biden just sent an early Valentine's Day gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin and radical environmentalists. That's going to cause heartache for a lot of other people.

Late last month, Biden announced a pause on permits for exporting liquid natural gas to non-Free Trade Agreement countries. The move stops needed approvals for export facilities in Louisiana and Texas. Basically, the government is denying private companies the ability to build facilities they would use to sell a legal and widely used product.

The United States has a virtually endless supply of natural gas and can increase supply quickly. The gas can be moved via pipeline, but to send it overseas, it's chilled and shipped on huge tankers. Those ships require LNG export terminals, like those Biden just halted. Demand for U.S. natural gas increased dramatically after Putin invaded Ukraine. Current export terminals can't keep up with demand.

Biden claimed the move was necessary to update economic and environmental analyses, but that's not the real motivation. "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," Biden said in a statement announcing the move.

It echoes a pledge he made during his presidential campaign. "I want you to look at my eyes," Biden told a young woman in 2019. "I guarantee you. I guarantee you. We're going to end fossil fuel."

Biden and much of the progressive left believe global warming "is the existential threat of our time," as a White House fact sheet put it. Therefore, the United States should stop shipping natural gas to other countries. Because they won't have access to that natural gas, the theory goes, carbon emissions will decrease. Notice the administration doesn't even attempt to specify how much this will lower global temperatures.

But even if you accept those premises, they are undergirded by a major flaw. Other countries will continue to demand cheap and reliable energy. If they can't get it from the United States, they'll look elsewhere. The second- and third-biggest exports of natural gas are Russia and Qatar. Russia, led by Putin, became even more of a global pariah after invading Ukraine. The leaders of Hamas lived in luxury in Qatar when the Oct. 7 terror attack occurred.

A coherent strategic policy would have the United States using its energy bounty to expand its influence through exports rather than undercutting its own interests by sending potential customers to Russia and Qatar. The other alternative many countries have is coal power, which produces higher carbon emissions than natural gas.

Putin may be sweet on this move, but it's a sour one for Americans. Biden should rescind this decision.

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