Natural gas producer EQT CEO dismisses Biden’s LNG freeze as political stunt

Ari Natter, Bloomberg February 07, 2024

(Bloomberg) – The chief executive officer of the country’s largest producer of natural gas dismissed the Biden administration’s move to freeze new liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports as a political stunt, telling House lawmakers during a hearing Tuesday that the decision was designed to secure support at the ballot box.

Drilling pipes at an EQT hydraulic fracturing site in Washington Township, Pennsylvania. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

“Let’s call this what it is: the Biden administration’s decision is pure politics,” Toby Rice, CEO of EQT Corp., said in testimony before a House panel. “We all know what this really is: an election year stall designed to garner votes.”

The White House announced last month it was halting approval of new licenses to export LNG while it scrutinizes how the shipments affect climate change, the economy and national security amid a backlash against natural gas from environmental groups. Part of the reason a new study is needed is because the government’s existing analysis doesn’t reflect evolving information about how much methane — the prime ingredient in natural gas — could warm the atmosphere, the administration said.

The Energy Department is relying on guidance from 1984 designed to gauge the public interest of LNG imports - but has not undertaken a similar process for exports - even as the U.S. has become the largest LNG exporter in the world, said Gillian Giannetti, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“DOE’s tools for assessing whether future gas exports are consistent with the public interest are both obsolete and inapplicable,” Giannetti told the Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security.

EQT has several nonbinding deals with LNG developers in the U.S., including Texas LNG LLC, Energy Transfer LP’s Lake Charles and Commonwealth LNG. The pause most affects Energy Transfer and Commonwealth, as well as Venture Global LNG Inc.’s CP2 in Louisiana, that are moving forward with export projects.

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