What Our Texas Representatives Are Saying About President Biden’s LNG Pause

Thu, February 22, 2024

In January, the Biden administration announced a pause on permits for new liquified natural gas (LNG) exports, sparking immediate reaction from Texas lawmakers across the political spectrum. Both Republican and Democratic representatives, echoed by the Texas Railroad Commission, have raised their voices against this decision, emphasizing the crucial role Texas plays in America's energy landscape and the potential repercussions of the pause on the state's economy, job market, and energy infrastructure.

The Texas congressional delegation quickly expressed their strong opposition to the pause through legislation and letters to the Biden administration, urging a reversal of the decision. Amid global geopolitical tensions and increasing energy demands, Texas’ natural gas and LNG industry is critical to meeting energy needs both at home and around the world, combined with the significant economic benefits the industry brings on both the federal and local levels. The consensus is clear: the Texas economy, jobs, and its flourishing energy industry are at risk.


‘Playing Politics with the Permian Basin’

Within days of Biden’s announcement,  Rep. August Pfluger (TX-11) introduced H.R. 7176, titled Unlocking Domestic LNG Potential Act, aiming to depoliticize LNG exports by transferring approval authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The bill, which passed in the Texas House with bipartisan support, represents a critical step toward streamlining the permitting process and enhancing energy security.

Rep. Pfluger criticized the Biden administration's approach as politicizing energy production, stating, "Once again President Biden is playing politics with the Permian Basin... My legislation takes the politics out of production... Energy security is national security."

Echoing this sentiment, Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33) led a group Democrats, including Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (TX-34)  and Henry Cuellar (TX-28) in a letter urging Biden to “refocus” his administration’s policies on LNG exports. The letter also voiced their support for LNG, underlining its importance for international partnerships and energy diversification.

In addition to signing the letter, Rep. Cuellar highlighted the adverse effects of the administration's halt on LNG terminal expansions, viewing the decision as a “threat to essential infrastructure and job markets, especially in Texas”.

Rep. Cuellar stated, “the pause will hurt Ports such as Corpus Christi, Texas, and hinder American energy security,” reiterating the broad and immediate consequences for both local and national energy markets. Representing a significant oil and gas-producing region, Rep. Cuellar's advocacy for LNG stems from its foundational role in his constituents' lives, creating over 40,000 jobs and generating substantial tax revenue within his district.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) described Biden's decision as an effective sanction against Texas, framing it as a declaration of war on the state's economy. Alongside U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and others, they criticized the pause for compromising national security, economic stability, and clean energy objectives.

“What Joe Biden did is effectively sanction the state of Texas; this is declaring war on Texas,” said Sen. Ted Cruz on his podcast.

Senators Cruz and Cornyn also joined U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) as cosigners of his letter opposing the pause along with 25 Republican colleagues. The letter harshly criticized the Biden Administration for its decision and considered it a submission to the radical climate lobby: “American LNG exports have enhanced our geopolitical influence and international energy security across the board since 2016. In addition to Europe, U.S. LNG has a significant impact on energy security in Asia.... Stable and secure supplies of U.S. LNG are critical to their energy security.”

Texas LNG infrastructure and projects have significantly contributed to the output exported to our allies in Europe and Asia. In the first half of 2022 alone, the Port of Corpus Christi facilitated the movement of 90.1 million tons of LNG. Looking ahead, Texas export facilities are poised to meet increasing European demand, as approximately 96% of the planned U.S. LNG export capacity is set to be located in the Gulf of Mexico, primarily fueled by Texas natural gas.


‘A pause on new LNG export projects hurts consumers, Texans’ jobs’

Rep. Randy Weber (TX-14) expressed concerns that the administration's stance threatens Texas' energy industry, job market, and energy independence. In a recent interview, Rep. Weber stated, “it seems like Biden is 'intent' on killing our energy industry.”

Responding to a question about how the ban is impacting jobs in Texas and Louisiana, Rep. Weber said, "It will harm my District 14, the Gulf Coast of Texas. We have a significant amount of energy coming from the Texas coast, and we should aim to be energy independent and dominant."

On February 15, Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian also submitted a letter in support of the Texas Congressional Delegation and Rep. Pflueger’s H.R. 7176.  In his letter the Texas commissioner stated: “LNG is vital to American and economy and especially to Texas and the Gulf Coast. He continued, as the nation’s top producing state, about half of U.S. exports leave from Texas. LNG exports are crucial to Texas’ economic future.”

Commissioner Christian added: “U.S. LNG is life-saving energy to our allies, and I don’t know about the president, but I’d much rather have the world buying American natural gas over foreign or hostile nations… President Joe Biden’s politically motivated pause on new LNG export projects hurts consumers, Texans’ jobs, slows the U.S. economy, makes energy more expensive, and jeopardizes the lives our foreign allies.”

Finally, during the House Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee hearing on February 6, titled "Politics Over People: How Biden’s LNG Export Ban Threatens America’s Energy and Economic Security," U.S. Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-7) contested the often-cited claim by supporters of Biden’s decision that LNG exports harm U.S. consumers and inflate energy prices. Rep. Fletcher referenced a study by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) showing that economic welfare improves with increased LNG exports. Therefore, halting LNG exports will adversely affect economic growth, especially in Texas and the Gulf states, where energy production is a critical component of the economy.

Texas, and the Gulf Coast, possess the natural gas and infrastructure necessary to stabilize global energy markets, drive economic growth, and secure energy supplies. With the numerous LNG projects operating and underway across Texas and the Gulf States, U.S. LNG export capacity was on track to double by 2027, promising significant job creation and economic uplift across the region for years to come.

The Biden administration's decision puts the growing Texas natural gas sector at a crossroads in a world that is struggling with geopolitical uncertainty and the pressing need for energy security. This decision, strongly opposed by Texas’ elected representatives, endangers the United States' energy independence and hinders economic growth. It also jeopardizes America’s strategic partnerships that have been strengthened by the export of U.S. natural gas. The unanimous position of our state's legislators demonstrates the broad understanding of the potential harm that Biden's LNG pause could have, affecting not just Texas but also the American economy, energy security, and that of our allies.