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NorthAmOil: Biden orders pause of LNG export approvals amid pressure from environmentalists

US President Joe Biden announced on January 26 that approvals of pending and future applications to export LNG from new projects are being temporarily halted.

Biden, who is entering an election year, cited climate change concerns for the move, saying in a statement that his administration will have a “hard look at the impacts of LNG exports on energy costs" and also "America’s energy security, and our environment.”

The Department of Energy (DOE) will now carry out a review to examine the environmental and economic impacts of the projects that have requested approval to export the super-chilled fuel abroad.

The White House said that the environmental and economic analyses used by the DOE are five years old. Export capacity at that time was 4bn cubic feet (113mn cubic metres) per day. Capacity has since tripled, as the US has become the biggest exporter of LNG in the world, surpassing Qatar and Australia.

The review is expected to last several months and will be followed by a period open to public comment, making it highly unlikely that any decisions on pending LNG projects will be taken before the November 5 election.

The move was cheered by environmentalists and climate activists, who have been putting increasing pressure on the Biden administration to tackle the climate crisis by reducing LNG exports.