To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Sparks

The First Big Fight of the U.S. General Election Is Over LNG

Americans have yet another acronym to learn.

Donald Trump.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

When the White House announced on Friday that it would temporarily pause the approval of new liquified natural gas export terminals, it wasn’t just a victory for climate activists. It also drew the line for the first big showdown of the longest general election in modern history. With all due respect to Nikki Haley and some guy named Ryan Binkley, who are both nominally still in the Republican race, former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden are both acting, understandably, like the primaries are already over.

Trump wasted no time vowing to “approve the export terminals on my very first day back” in a campaign speech in Nevada, which his campaign made official in an email blast to supporters. Trump also claimed LNG is “good for the environment, not bad.” While LNG might not be the worst for the planet, only energy interests are bold enough to describe it as actually beneficial.

LNG was hardly a preordained battleground; though there’d been some jostling in the fall between activists and Republicans, Americans more generally are fuzzy on the specifics of how the U.S. meets its energy needs and divided on how to address them.

Still, the Biden campaign clearly picked its spot. For one thing, the administration’s LNG pause is a literal challenge to the existing methodology for assessing LNG projects, developed under the Trump administration back in 2018. The timing of the announcement further marks it as an opening salvo to young climate-conscious voters whose faith in the president suffered a bruising when he approved a ConocoPhillips oil exploration effort known as the Willow Project last spring. There could be some strategy here on the part of the campaign, as well — by baiting Trump into taking up LNG as a low-hanging talking point, it gets to amplify and contrast Biden’s climate agenda repeatedly in response.

But it’s a risky gambit. Attacks on LNG might not be as simple as they look at first glance — that is, after all, what the Energy Department’s review is all about, although it also likely kicks the decision to, conveniently, after Election Day. Heatmap polling also shows Americans aren’t very familiar with Biden’s landmark climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, even as experts believe “climate voters could make or break Joe Biden in 2024.” I fear Americans’ eyes will glaze over at yet another three-letter acronym — not that “liquified natural gas export terminals” is exactly any better. At the very least, other polling appears to indicate a public that is confused and conflicted about fossil fuels, see-sawing between a desire for energy security and anxiety over climate priorities.

Meanwhile, Trump can add LNG to his laundry list of dubious attacks on the energy transition and the “Green New Scam.”

Of course, none of these risks is a reason for the Biden administration not to get to the bottom of LNG’s environmental impacts. The U.S. is, after all, now the largest LNG exporter in the world. But the timing of the Biden administration’s announcement, just as the Republican race took a decisive and seemingly inevitable turn in Trump’s favor, means that one way or another, we’ll be hearing a lot more about LNG in the long, long months to come.

Red

Jeva Lange

Jeva is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Her writing has also appeared in The Week, where she formerly served as executive editor and culture critic, as well as in The New York Daily News, Vice, and Gothamist, among others. Jeva lives in New York City. Read More

Read More

To continue reading

Create a free account or sign in to unlock more free articles.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Sparks

Coal’s Slowdown Is Slowing Down

Rising electricity demand puts reliability back on the table.

Pollution.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United States has been able to drive its greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest level since the early 1990s largely by reducing the amount of energy on the grid generated by coal to a vast extent. In 2005, by far the predominant source of U.S. electricity, making up some 2.2 million gigawatt-hours of the country’s 4.3 million GWh total energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2022, by contrast, coal generation was down to 900,000 GWh out of 4.5 million GWh generated. As a result, “U.S. emissions are 15.8% lower than 2005 levels, while power emissions are 40% lower than 2005 levels,” according to BloombergNEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

But the steady retirement of coal plants may be slowing down. Only 2.3 GW of coal generating capacity are set to be shut down so far in 2024, according to the Energy Information Administration. While in 2025, that number is expect to jump up to 10.9 GW, the combined 13.2 GW of retired capacity pales in comparison of the more than 22 GW retired in the past two years, according to EIA figures. Over the past decade, coal retirements have averaged about 10 GW a year, with actual retirements often outpacing forecasts.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Sparks

Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Sparks

This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow
HMN Banner
Get today’s top climate story delivered right to your inbox.

Sign up for our free Heatmap Daily newsletter.