Biden’s War On Natural Gas Will Kill
Biden could save millions of lives that will be lost to hunger, cold temperatures, and pollution by simply expanding rather than repressing natural gas production. Why doesn't he?
Over the next several years, millions of people will die from hunger-related diseases, cold temperatures, and air pollution as a direct result of natural gas shortages. All of those deaths have been going down over the last several decades. But shortages of natural gas, gas-derived fertilizers, and electricity will result in a reversal of those trends. And the higher-than-normal death toll will continue so long as the world fails to produce sufficient natural gas to meet global demand.
President Joe Biden could prevent a significant number of those deaths but his policies restricting natural gas production and exports will increase them. The U.S. is already the largest natural gas exporter in the world and it could produce and export far more. The problem is that the Biden administration is refusing to grant permits for production, pipelines, and export terminals. And it is working through federal agencies to discourage private sector investment in natural gas.
Biden administration officials point to rising liquified natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe, provisions in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that tie renewable energy production to oil and gas production, and a permitting reform proposal proposed by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), which may pass Congress and be signed by Biden at the end of September, as proof that Biden increasing natural gas supplies.
But rising LNG exports are mostly the result of policies put in place before Biden took office, IRA increased the cost of natural gas leases on federal lands without requiring a significant expansion of them, and Manchin’s permitting reform proposal currently under consideration does not amend or update any of the statutes the Biden administration has put in place, which restrict natural gas production, transport, and export.
A high-level Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist for the oil and gas industry told me that, as a direct result of Biden administration policies, private sector investment in LNG is being throttled. “The LNG industry is going to investors to invest in these facilities but investors are saying, ‘Wait. These are 20-year investments and Biden is saying that in 5 to 10 years these investments will go bad. So what should we do?’”
Manchin’s permitting reform may not even get the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a priority of Manchin’s, built. That pipeline would transport a significant quantity of natural gas out of the Appalachian region and make it available for export to the world.
“There’s nothing in the current permitting reform proposal Manchin’s office is circulating that allows the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” the lobbyist said. “Manchin staffers put out a one-pager with different components of reforms in it, and one of the bullets said ‘Get MVP permitted.’ But the way Manchin staffers describe it, it wouldn’t help.”
Many journalists claim there’s little the Biden administration could do to significantly and quickly increase the global supply of natural gas, and thus fertilizer and food. That’s false. The main barrier to expanded natural gas production in the U.S. is regulatory. That means that the main barrier to increasing the world’s supply of natural gas is Biden himself. Why is that?