Methane Madness

How Eight Pending LNG Export Projects Threaten the Planet, and How President Biden Can Stop Them

Aerial image of an LNG terminal with text superimposed saying "Methane Madness: How Eight Pending LNG Export Projects Threaten the Planet, and how President Biden Can Stop Them"

The United States is in the midst of a liquefied methane boom. In 2023, the US became the world’s top exporter of the fuel, which is used to heat homes and run power plants. By 2028, exports of North American liquid methane — what the industry calls liquefied natural gas or LNG — are expected to more than double.

Fossil fuel corporations want to keep the fracked-gas party going. Eight more new LNG projects are quickly gaining commercial momentum, securing the long-term sales contracts needed to attract investors and commence construction. But they cannot proceed without final approval from President Biden’s Department of Energy (DOE), which must determine whether new export permits are in “the public interest” under the Natural Gas Act, passed in 1938. The same public interest test applies to facilities in Mexico or Canada if they are fed by US-produced methane, and need State Department approval for pipelines crossing the US border. 

The White House is reportedly weighing reforms to the Department of Energy’s antiquated approach to the “public interest” test, currently a rubber stamp that survived largely unchanged through the Obama and Trump administrations. With the status quo locking in dangerous amounts of climate pollution and sticking everyday utility customers with higher energy bills, change is long overdue.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), meanwhile, is fighting to protect the LNG buildout with a new multimillion-dollar ad blitz. The oil and gas lobbying group claims LNG “provides supply options for America's allies — most notably to the European Union amid Russia's aggression against Ukraine.” The facts contradict this national security narrative. Already-operating export terminals position the United States as the world’s top LNG supplier, providing more than enough methane for key allies. Further expansion of US LNG export capacity simply empowers API’s Big Oil members to increase profits while boosting prices paid by American families.

A bar graph depicting the destinations of contracted LNG volumes that are a pending U.S. approval

Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, and BailoutWatch reviewed the more than 30 long-term supply contracts struck by LNG export projects still pending final approval. These contracts are essential for multibillion-dollar LNG terminal investments to proceed. These massive projects are being built by established major gas companies such as Cheniere Energy and Energy Transfer as well as startup companies such as Venture Global LNG and Mexico Pacific, which have received major investments from private equity firms and other investors.

Nirmal Bang report.