Daily on Energy: API cites overwhelming support for LNG exports to allies in new poll

February 28, 2024

Originally published in Washington Examiner. Written by Breanne DeppischandNancy Vu.

NEW POLLING FROM API ON LNG: Voters overwhelmingly support continued LNG exports to allies in Europe and other countries to help bolster the nation’s economy and strengthen national security, according to a new industry poll published this morning—indicating political risks for President Joe Biden, depending on how long his pause on new export terminals lasts.

According to the survey, which was commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute and shared exclusively with the Washington Examiner, 87% of Democrats, 93% of Republicans, and 90% of independent voters said they supported continued LNG exports to allies, primarily in the European Union.

“Energy is on the ballot this year,” API president and CEO Mike Sommers told the Washington Examiner in an interview, adding that the poll numbers “should be a wake up call” for the Biden administration, highlighting widespread voter dissatisfaction with its energy policies.

LNG exports are under intense scrutiny over climate risks—the basis for the administration’s pause on approving new terminals.

Though Biden administration officials have repeatedly stressed that the EU and other countries dependent on LNG will not face a supply risk as a result of the pause, Sommers strongly disagreed.

Asked whether the pause could harm investment in new terminals, Sommers said “we’re already seeing it.”

“We’re already seeing countries in Europe that are contracting for LNG from Qatar, rather than the U.S., and Japan is actually now contracting with Russia to get more natural gas,” he told the Examiner.

“And I think what you’re going to continue to see is concern among the investment community about what this pause means for the future of new LNG terminals in the United States.”

SPEAKING OF API – A REHEARING PLEA ON LNG PAUSE: The American Petroleum Institute filed an application Monday for a rehearing on the LNG pause, arguing that it violates several laws while undermining economic and national security.

In the filing, the trade association makes the case that the pause violates a provision under the Natural Gas Act that allows the DOE to issue export permits to countries the U.S. does not have a free-trade agreement with, absent a finding that it is not in the public interest. The group also argues that the pause goes against the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirement for the department to give affected parties prior notice or the ability to comment on the move.

API Vice President of Natural Gas Markets Rob Jennings said in a written statement that the pause “is not only unlawful – it cedes America’s energy advantage to hostile nations while jeopardizing thousands of American jobs.” Read the complete filing here.

E&C GOP INQUIRES INTO BIDEN ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGER PROGRAMS: Energy and Commerce Republicans are probing into the Biden administration’s infrastructure programs meant to boost the build-out of electric vehicle chargers – and expressing concerns that tax dollars are being “woefully” mismanaged as the programs are rolled out.

In a letter sent out last Thursday, E&C Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, along with subcommittee chairmen Jeff Duncan and Morgan Griffith, claimed that little progress has been made in the buildout of EV infrastructure since the rollout of the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s $5 billion NEVI Formula Program and the $2.5 billion CFI Discretionary Grant Program. The letter noted the DOE and DOT’s announced opening of the country’s first EV fast charging stations funded through the NEVI program in December – but that the eight chargers were built more than two years after the passage of the IIJA.

“The problems with these programs continue to grow – delays in the delivery of chargers, concerns from States about labor contracting requirements and minimum operating standards for chargers, the fact that 22 States (44 percent) have not issued solicitations for NEVI funding, and the limited and questionable delivery of awards from the CFI Discretionary Grant Program,” the letter reads.

The Republicans are requesting a briefing on the status of the program, and questioning its logistics. More specifically, the lawmakers are questioning how many EV chargers are expected to be constructed in 2024, how the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation is updating its plans to “ensure federal dollars do not overbuild private sector investments,” and how the Biden administration’s waiver of Buy America requirements for materials to build the chargers aren’t supporting Chinese companies.

They request that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg respond by March 7. Spokespeople for both departments did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Read that letter here.