House Passes Bill To Reverse Biden Natural Gas Pause

Critics say permit freeze will benefit American adversaries Russia and Qatar

(Win McNamee/Getty Images)
February 15, 2024

The House on Thursday passed a bill overriding President Joe Biden's decision to halt domestic Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) production, amid concerns that the permit freeze will benefit American adversaries such as Russia and Qatar.

The Unlocking Our Domestic LNG Potential Act, which was introduced by Rep. August Pfluger (R., Texas), was approved by 215 Republicans and 9 Democrats. The Democrat-controlled Senate is not expected to take it up, but the vote allowed House Republicans to stake out their opposition to the LNG ban ahead of the 2024 election.

Biden's order has drawn praise from left-leaning climate groups and criticism from conservatives and national security hawks.

The policy is viewed as an election-year concession to Biden's progressive base. Left-leaning donors poured millions of dollars into activist groups that pushed for the LNG pause, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Biden's incoming climate czar, John Podesta, led the push for the policy behind the scenes, sources told the Washington Free Beacon. His brother, Washington power lobbyist Tony Podesta, has represented several foreign clients in the LNG industry who could benefit from the U.S. permit freeze, the Free Beacon reported on Thursday.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R., Mich.) cited Tony Podesta's lobbying in a floor speech calling for the LNG freeze to be overturned on Thursday.

"Today it was reported that one of the plan's main architects, soon-to-be climate envoy John Podesta, might have other reasons to damper America's LNG future," said Walberg. "His brother [is] a long-time lobbyist for foreign LNG companies, including one founded by Russian energy oligarchs."

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), the chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that American LNG exports have "been a lifeline, especially … our European allies, since Russia invaded Ukraine."

"Since the invasion, American LNG has helped them reduce their natural gas prices by over 83 percent and reduce their dependence on Russia," she said.

The United States is the top global producer of LNG. Critics of the LNG pause say it will undermine American energy independence and force other countries to turn to U.S. adversaries such as Russia and Qatar to fulfill their energy needs.

"Less U.S. LNG on the global market will ensure Qatar and Russia receive hundreds of billions of dollars that would otherwise go to the U.S.," an energy industry insider told the Free Beacon this week.