U.S. Department of Energy Pauses Climate-Destroying Gas Exports

On January 26, after over a decade of Sierra Club advocacy, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a pause on expanding gas exports. Nine export projects could have moved forward this year but will not because of this pause. The largest of these, CP2, would create greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to 50 coal-fired power plants.

DOE is pausing its review of individual liquified natural gas (LNG) export applications while it updates its outdated analyses of the environmental and economic impacts of LNG exports. Updated analyses should lead DOE to recognize that LNG exports harm the climate, damage local communities and ecosystems, and increase energy costs for American ratepayers. A robust analysis should lead DOE to conclude that these LNG export applications should be denied rather than merely delayed.

Sierra Club has been the lead organization challenging federal export approvals for over a decade. In addition to challenging individual facilities’ export applications, Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program petitioned DOE to update its process for reviewing LNG exports in 2013, advocating that the public interest analysis required by the Natural Gas Act must include the climate and community impacts of producing and burning the exported gas. In 2022, we reminded the Biden administration of that still-outstanding petition, and in 2023, we sued DOE for failing to respond. Sierra Club has also been the lead national environmental organization engaging on DOE’s prior environmental and economic studies regarding LNG exports. 

Together with our federal policy team, and our campaign that brought the voices of frontline communities to DOE’s attention, Sierra Club’s exceptional team of litigators played a major role in laying the groundwork for and securing the current pause. During this DOE process, we will continue to vigorously advocate for thorough and accurate analyses of the many harms inflicted by LNG export terminals with the goal of making this pause permanent.