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Casey Breaks With Biden, Angers Environmentalists With Support for LNG Exports

What a difference an election year makes.

Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey Jr. has been an outspoken advocate of climate policies designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions. In 2022, he praised President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, saying the $369 billion in green spending “may have been the last chance” for federal action on climate change. Casey voted against a 2021 amendment to reverse Biden’s shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline, and he’s even floated bringing back the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps to promote “climate change mitigation.”

But with a competitive general election looming in November and a well-funded GOP challenger, Casey signed a letter last week announcing his opposition to the Biden administration’s decision to pause liquid natural gas (LNG) exports.

“Pennsylvania is an energy state,” Casey and fellow Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. John Fetterman wrote. “As the second largest natural gas-producing state, this industry has created good-paying energy jobs in towns and communities across the commonwealth and has played a critical role in promoting U.S. energy independence.”

Fetterman and Casey worry the LNG pause might impact “thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry.” They vowed to push the administration to reverse the decision if it “puts Pennsylvania energy jobs at risk.”

It’s surprisingly strong language for Casey, who voted for Biden’s agenda 99.3 percent of the time last year, according to

Environmental groups were not pleased with the two Democrats’ statement.

“They are being hypocritical, and also they are sticking their head in the ground by ignoring/denying the climate impacts that are being caused by LNG exports and the fracking that fuels it,” said Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) “They are also acting unproductively oppositional to President Biden who also said this pause will examine the community and economic impacts of these DOE authorizations for LNG export and that is inexcusable.”

Only one other Senate Democrat, green activist bête noire Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), openly criticized the Biden policy. Manchin chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and vowed to do everything possible to “end this pause immediately” if it’s proven the Biden administration was pandering to “keep-it-in-the-ground climate activists.”

Manchin isn’t seeking reelection, and there’s been talk that he may run for president as a centrist third-party candidate.

It’s a much different scenario for Casey, who is up for reelection this fall. His likely Republican opponent, Dave McCormick, wasted no time decrying Biden’s LNG pause.

“America and PA lead the world in Liquified Natural Gas, creating jobs for our people & allies for our country,” McCormick posted on social media hours after Biden’s announced the LNG pause last month. “Why is Bob Casey standing with [Biden] on this?”

Almost a week later, Casey announced his opposition.

Fetterman’s commitment to green energy shifted further. After twice signing the No Fossil Fuel Pledge, the alleged progressive said in 2022 that he supports fracking “as long as it’s done environmentally sound.” His Senate campaign claimed he never “supported a fracking ban” and wanted to “preserve the union way of life” for natural gas workers. However, Fetterman said in 2018, “I don’t support fracking.”

Environmental groups, including Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Sierra Club of Pennsylvania, and PennFuture, declined to comment about the pro-fossil-fuel stance of their political allies. Instead,  Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter Director Tom Schuster said he was confident the federal review would prove LNG projects don’t “serve the public interest and will cancel them.” PennFuture said the pause was “a win for Philadelphia and Chester.”

Energy groups praised Casey and Fetterman for their willingness to break with Biden.

“The Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association agrees with the criticism by Sens. Casey and Fetterman of the effect on Pennsylvania jobs of President Bidens’s LNG export pause,” Kevin Moody, PIOGA General Counsel, told DVJournal. “But just as significant, and perhaps even more so, are the adverse effects on our national security and our ability to provide Europe and Asia with the LNG they need and will get from somewhere else.”

Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association President and CEO David Taylor called it electoral politics.

“I think the Biden administration just took a position so extreme that people had to protect their backsides and jump up and say, ‘No, I’m not, I’m not in favor of that,’” he told DVJournal.

Taylor still wondered if Casey’s recent public stance was sincere, given his record.

“[He] worked closely with Joe Biden …certainly in the Democrat primary in 2019 and 2020 [he] was all in for Joe Biden,” Taylor said. “If he’s looking to differentiate himself from [Biden], that may be an exceedingly difficult challenge.”

Carluccio suspects the move could hurt Casey at the ballot box this fall, particularly among environmentally conscious voters in the Delaware Valley.

“Those folks vote,” she said. “More and more people, as they become convinced that fracking is not what it’s made out to be…are going to speak through their vote.”

The U.S. Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on Biden’s LNG export pause.

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KING: The Ghost of Jimmy Carter Haunts Natural Gas Decisions

The ghost of Jimmy Carter may be stalking energy policy in the White House and the Department of Energy.

In the Carter years, the struggle was for nuclear power. Today, it is for natural gas and America’s booming liquefied natural gas future.

The decisions that Carter took during his presidency are still felt. Carter believed that nuclear energy was the resource of last resort. Although he didn’t overtly oppose it, he did damn it with faint praise. Carter and the environmental movement of the time advocated for coal.

The first secretary of energy, James Schlesinger, a close friend of mine, struggled to keep nuclear alive. But he had to accept the reprocessing ban and the cancellation of the fast breeder reactor program with a demonstration reactor in Clinch River, Tennessee. Breeder reactors are a way of burning nuclear waste.

More important, Carter, a nuclear engineer, believed the reprocessing of nuclear fuel — then an established expectation — would lead to global proliferation. He thought if we put a stop to reprocessing at home, it would curtail proliferation abroad. Reprocessing saves up to 97 percent of the uranium that hasn’t been burned up the first time, but the downside is that it frees bomb-grade plutonium.

Rather than chastening the world, Carter essentially broke the world monopoly on nuclear energy enjoyed — outside of the Soviet bloc — by the United States. Going forward, we weren’t seen as a reliable supplier.

Now, the Biden administration is weighing a move that will curtail the growth in natural gas exports, costing untold wealth to America and weakening its position as a stable, global supplier of liquified natural gas. It is a commodity in great demand in Europe and Asia and pits the United States against Russia as a supplier.

What it won’t do is curtail so much as 1 cubic foot of gas consumption anywhere outside of the United States.

The argument against gas is that it is a fossil fuel and fossil fuels contribute to global warming. But gas is the most benign of the fossil fuels, and it beats burning coal or oil hands down. Also, technology is on the way to capture the carbon in natural gas at the point of use.

But some environmentalists — duplicating the folly of environmentalism in the Carter administration — are out to frustrate the production, transport and export of LNG in the belief that this will help save the environment.

The issue the White House and the Energy Department are debating is whether the department should permit a large, proposed LNG export terminal in Louisiana at Calcasieu Pass, known as CP2, and 16 other applications for LNG export terminals.

The recent history of U.S. natural gas and LNG has been an industrial and scientific success: a very American story of can-do.

At a press conference in 1977, the then-deputy secretary of energy, Jack O’Leary, declared natural gas to be a depleted resource. He told a reporter not to ask about it anymore because it wasn’t in play.

Deregulation and technology, much of it developed by the U.S. government in conjunction with visionary George Mitchell and his company, Mitchell Energy, upended that. The drilling of horizontal wells using 3D seismic data, a new drill bit, and better fracking with an improved fracking liquid changed everything. Add to that a better turbine, developed from aircraft engines, and a new age of gas abundance arrived.

Now, the United States is the largest exporter of LNG, and it has become an important tool in U.S. diplomacy. It was American LNG that was rushed to Europe to replace Russian gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In conversations with European gas companies, I am told they look to the United States for market stability and reliability.

Globally, gas is a replacement fuel for coal, sometimes oil, and it is essential for warming homes in Europe. There is no alternative.

The idea of curbing LNG exports, advanced by the left wing of the Democratic Party and their environmental allies, won’t keep greenhouse gases from the environment. It will simply hand the market to other producers like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

To take up arms against yourself, Carter-like, is a flawed strategy.

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Report Calls LNG Export Terminal a Boon for DelVal Economy; Opponents Aren’t on Board

Whether southeastern Pennsylvania becomes the base for a liquified natural gas terminal remains unclear after the release of a much-awaited report from the bipartisan Philadelphia LNG Export Task Force.

“Our abundant natural gas resources not only fuel economic growth within the commonwealth but also offer us a unique opportunity to meet growing energy demand across the globe while creating tens of thousands of jobs and generating billions of dollars in yearly economic activity that can benefit communities in the Southeast region,” said task force Chair Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia).

Recommendations in the final report include:

  • Facilitating pathways to support the current skilled labor workforce and workforce of the future by promoting educational opportunities and partnerships with the industry, institutions of higher education, and K-12 schools—especially those located in the Greater Philadelphia area and surrounding communities.
  • Streamlining and improving the permitting process in Pennsylvania to balance regulatory considerations with the need for an effective and efficient permitting process to attract investment in Pennsylvania.
  • Calling on Congress to reform the Jones Act to facilitate the transport of LNG between U.S. ports.

“As this report shows, Pennsylvania is poised to help address the increasing global demand for affordable, reliable energy by leveraging its abundant supply of natural gas and exporting LNG overseas,” said Stephanie Catarino Wissman, executive director of American Petroleum Institute Pennsylvania. “Under the leadership of Rep. White, this task force has put forth a comprehensive report and roadmap for Pennsylvania to establish an LNG export facility that would bring significant new investment and economic growth to the region and generate thousands of new jobs. Advancing the recommendations outlined in the report, including permitting reform at the state and federal level, is critical to developing an LNG export terminal and thus expanding Pennsylvania’s role as a global energy leader.”

Task Force member Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Bradford) said, “Pennsylvania’s diverse energy portfolio, robust energy sector, and extensive geological formations make us uniquely qualified to address the demand for affordable and reliable energy.”

“We already know the benefits of an LNG terminal are far too great to ignore, and the final report of the task force serves as a solid roadmap to position Pennsylvania as a global leader in energy exportation,” said Yaw, who chairs the environmental resources and energy committee. “Through the report’s recommendations to streamline the permitting process, strengthen our skilled labor workforce, and facilitate the safe and efficient transportation of LNG, we have the potential to create jobs, support economic development, reduce harmful emissions, and restore energy independence to this country.”

Toby Z. Rice, president and chief executive officer of EQT Corporation, a natural gas producer, sees this as a moment to seize the economic opportunity from the state’s standing as “a leading energy supplier.”

“For the first time in decades, the number of people without access to electricity increased in 2022. The task force’s report is clear – making clean, affordable, reliable Appalachian natural gas available on a global scale will increase energy security, decrease global emissions, and promote family-sustaining jobs across the Commonwealth. We have an incredible opportunity before us to unleash U.S. LNG from Pennsylvania, which will address the global energy shortage and generate thousands of jobs for Pennsylvanians,” Rice said.

Jim Snell, business manager of Steamfitters Local 420, likes what he sees in the report. “I am thrilled with the adoption of the final report from the Philadelphia LNG Export Task Force. This is an important step toward realizing the economic benefits of an LNG export terminal in our region, which can create thousands of well-paying union jobs and support the hard-working men and women in our community.”

White said the recommendations in the report are aimed at growing Pennsylvania’s economy, supporting Pennsylvania workers, and developing the future workforce.

“The adoption of this report is especially important in light of the decision by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court voiding Pennsylvania’s entrance into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state energy tax program that would have increased energy costs for Pennsylvanians,” said White. “We have the opportunity to not only increase energy production safety and efficiently and work toward reducing energy costs for Pennsylvania consumers.”

Carl Marrara, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, conducted an economic analysis, finding the LNG export facility would benefit the local, regional, and statewide economies.

“Assuming a four-year constriction phase, a similarly sized LNG export facility would produce over 7,000 jobs per year, with approximately $575.35 million in labor income alone added to the state and local economy. In total, construction of the facility would add approximately $1.195 billion in total yearly economic output.

“The industries most positively impacted from the increase in economic activity are those in the skilled trades, led by jobs created for the construction of the facility structures, as well as commercial and industrial machinery repair, concrete manufacturing and fabricated pipe and fitting manufacturing,” Marra said.

However, some local officials are lining up to oppose any LNG development.

Chester Mayor-elect Stefan Roots told DVJournal he is concerned about pollution and the danger an LNG terminal might bring.

“There’s a public health and public safety issue first and foremost,” said Roots. Typically, these plants are built on at least 1,000 acres of “unpopulated land,” he said. “To squeeze all that onto 100 acres displaces dozens and dozens of families, churches, and established entities here to create the blast zone that they need, which indicates this is not a safe business, is something I don’t like.”

It is also unclear whether Gov. Josh Shapiro will support the effort to locate an LNG facility in the Delaware Valley. His spokesperson did not respond when asked whether the governor supports an LNG terminal for southeastern Pennsylvania.

The bipartisan Philadelphia LNG Export Task Force was comprised of members of the General Assembly, representatives of the natural gas industry, organized labor, the Port of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Gas Works, the mayor of Philadelphia, and members of the governor’s administration.