Congressional Republicans are turning up the heat on the Biden administration’s decision to pause natural gas export approvals.
Next week, the House will hold a hearing on the matter, and a Louisiana Republican has vowed to block White House energy nominees.
Lawmakers are also talking about plans for a week devoted to moving energy bills on the House floor.
The House Energy and Commerce hearing will be the first major congressional action on liquefied natural gas since the Department of Energy announced Friday that it will stop approving new exports to nations without free-trade agreement — including Europe — for at least a year, a decision that sparked anger among Republicans and fossil fuel interests.
“[The hearing] seems very timely, doesn’t it?” full committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) quipped Tuesday.
Energy, Climate and Grid Security Subcommittee Chair Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said the discussion could serve as a jumping-off point for legislation attacking or even repealing the move by the Biden administration.
Former Ohio Republican Rep. Bill Johnson, who recently retired from Congress, led inclusion of his “Unlocking our Domestic LNG Potential Act of 2023,” H.R. 1130, into Republican’s signature energy package last year, H.R. 1.
The bill would effectively remove DOE’s authority for approving new LNG export terminals. The department reviews projects to determine whether they are in the national interest, and the administration wants climate change to get more weight.
Duncan said the LNG bill could back be on the House floor as part of a broader package of bills in February.
“We’re talking about an energy week coming up for the floor, so I’m sure that [Johnson’s bill] may be part of it,” Duncan said.
Over in the Senate, Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said last week he plans to hold a hearing on the LNG export issue soon.
Kennedy vows nominee blockade
Also, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy is promising to block key administration nominees until President Joe Biden resumes approving LNG export terminals.
On Monday, Kennedy said he would put holds on State and Energy departments’ picks in response to the administration’s actions.
Louisiana is a major natural-gas-exporting state, and the administration’s pause would affect the Calcasieu Pass 2, or CP2, project there. That venture would increase exports by about 20 percent.
“Until Mr. Biden drops this battle against American energy, I’m going to block every nominee he tries to place at the State and Energy departments,” Kennedy wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
“Like the Terminator, I’ll be back again and again to stop his nominees and remind the world that he’s intentionally killing jobs and threatening our national security to placate confused climate extremists.”
There are currently no pending Department of Energy nominees. The issue is different at State. Deputy secretary nominee Kurt Campbell is among the picks waiting for a vote.
Holds don’t have the power to block a nominee if enough senators agree to wind down debate, but they can delay an administration or judicial pick that would otherwise secure quick confirmation.
Reporter Timothy Cama contributed.