Sign In or Create an Account.

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 profile image

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.

Sparks

Wind Is More Powerful Than J. D. Vance Seems to Think

Just one turbine can charge hundreds of cell phones.

J.D. Vance.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

It’s a good thing most of us aren’t accountable for every single silly thing we’ve ever said, but most of us are not vice presidential running mates, either. Back in 2022, when J.D. Vance was still just a “New York Times bestselling author” and not yet a “junior senator from Ohio,” much less “second-in-line to a former president who will turn 80 in office if he’s reelected,” he made a climate oopsie that — now that it’s recirculating — deserves to be addressed.

If Democrats “care so much about climate change,” Vance argued during an Ohio Republican senator candidate forum during that year, “and they think climate change is caused by carbon emissions, then why is their solution to scream about it at the top of their lungs, send a bunch of our jobs to China, and then manufacture these ridiculous ugly windmills all over Ohio farms that don’t produce enough electricity to run a cell phone?”

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
A worker and power lines.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United Nations calls 24/7 carbon-free energy generation, also known as hourly matching, “the end state of a fully decarbonized electricity system.” It means that every kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed is matched with a zero-emissions electricity source, every hour of every day. It’s something that Google and Microsoft are aiming to implement by 2030, and it represents a much more significant climate commitment than today’s default system of annualized matching

So here’s a positive sign: LevelTen Energy, the leading marketplace for power purchase agreements, just raised $65 million in Series D funding, led by the investment firm B Capital with participation from Microsoft, Google, and Prelude Ventures, among others.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Beryl making landfall in Texas.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Hurricane Beryl, ahem, barreled into America’s Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm, and whenever something like that happens the entire global energy industry holds its breath. The Gulf of Mexico is not just a frequent target and breeding ground for massive storms, it is also one of America’s — and the world’s — most important energy hubs. Texas and Louisiana contains giant oil and gas fields, and the region is home to about half of the United States’ refining capacity.

At least so far, the oil and refining industry appears to have largely dodged Beryl’s worst effects. The storm made landfall in Matagorda, a coastal town between Galveston and Corpus Christi, both of which are major centers for the refinery industry. Only one refinery, the Phillips 66 facility in Sweeny, Texas, was in the storm’s cone, according to TACenergy, a petroleum products distributor. Phillips 66 did not respond to a request to comment, but Reuters reported that the Sweeny facility as well as its refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana were powered and operating. Crude oil prices have seen next to no obvious volatility, rising to $83.88 a barrel on July 3 and since settling around $82.84.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue