White House official cites young, climate-focused voters as key Biden constituency after LNG announcement

White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi outlined the scientific rationale behind the Biden administration’s pause on some liquefied natural gas (LNG) export approvals, but he acknowledged young and climate-focused voters as a key constituency when asked whether they influenced the decision to implement the pause.

At Friday’s White House press briefing, Zaidi was asked whether the decision was pitched at progressives and voters who identify climate change as a top concern, constituencies that were key to Biden’s 2020 victory but have expressed disappointment at administration policies on the war in Gaza and the approval of fossil-fuel development projects.

In response, Zaidi told reporters that “young people have been such a central part of the coalition that helped the president imagine this climate agenda,” adding that “young people know they’ve got in Joe Biden a partner, an ally and a leader who is willing to be forward-leaning[.]” Zaidi went on to cite Biden’s establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps, a top ask from both activists and climate-focused congressional Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), as well as the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate legislation in U.S. history.

“That’s the vision that I think young people are excited about, one that’s not just about getting sucked into the doom and gloom of the sky turning orange and the smoke that we breathe into our lungs, but what we can see together if we get this right,” Zaidi added.

Zaidi was noncommittal when asked whether the administration would consider calls from activists and environmentalists to make the pause more permanent.

The administration formally announced Friday that it will pause new permitting for LNG exports as it analyzes environmental impacts as well as effects on domestic energy costs. Existing export permits and countries with free-trade agreements with the U.S. will not be affected. Zaidi echoed the announcement at the Friday briefing, saying the timing was due to a combination of recent LNG infrastructure buildouts as well as new understandings of the particular threat of methane emissions, which dissipate from the atmosphere more quickly than carbon emissions but are more potent in their planet-warming effects.

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