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7 Democrats join GOP in pushing back on Biden’s pause on new gas exports

A handful of Democrats and more than 150 Republicans are pushing back against the Biden administration’s move to pause new approvals for facilities that would export natural gas.

In two letters Monday, lawmakers criticized the administration’s recent decision to pause new approvals for natural gas export facilities as it weighs whether to change the criteria it uses to assess them. The pause does not impact existing exports.

One letter was sent by seven Democrats and more than a dozen Republicans who are part of the bipartisan Energy Export Caucus.

The seven Democrats who signed the letter are Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Lou Correa (Calif.), Mary Sattler Peltola (Alaska), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Jared Golden (Maine), Jim Costa (Calif.) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.).

The other letter, with more than 150 Republican signatures, was led by House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and joined by members of House leadership, including Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Both of the letters argued that the U.S. should continue to grow its natural gas exports to counter gas coming from Russia.

The bipartisan lawmakers said they were looking to “voice … concern” with the decision, while the Republican group said it was writing to “urge” President Biden to “end this unnecessary review and expeditiously approve all pending applications.”

The Biden administration said last week it would pause the exports and undertake the review to update how it weighs economic, environmental and national security factors in gas exports.

The move was met with praise by climate and environmental activists, who have expressed concerns about growing U.S. natural gas exports, but it was criticized by Republicans, some centrist Democrats and players in the energy industry.

Asked to respond to the two letters on Monday, a spokesperson for the Energy Department referred The Hill to a letter to the editor that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm wrote to The Washington Post over the weekend.

Granholm, in the letter, defended the pause and review, writing, “We need to know what these greatly expanded exports mean for affordable and stable prices for American consumers and industries.”

“Because LNG export facilities are huge infrastructure projects that will have impacts for decades, we must understand and evaluate long-term effects on local communities and our global climate,” she added.

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