Elected leaders discuss negative impacts of LNG export halt in Port Arthur

Published 4:36 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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The local, national and global impact of the Biden Administration’s halt on approvals for LNG exports has far reaching implications, according to industry leaders and several lawmakers.

The Sheila Umphrey Industrial Technology Center on the Lamar State College Port Arthur campus was the backdrop for a roundtable discussion Wednesday with leaders prior to a news conference.

U.S. Rep. Randy Weber and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan were joined by Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie as they denounced the LNG export permit moratorium.

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Standing behind a podium featuring a sign that read “President Biden’s LNG export ban hurts Southeast Texas,” Weber explained the ban was announced on Jan. 26 and could spread past the November election.

“About 10 miles down the road Port Arthur LNG broke ground in March of 2023 and is on phase one of construction, which equals three things; jobs, jobs, jobs,” Weber said. “The permitting processes these facilities have to go through takes years. It is burdensome and absolutely way too much bureaucratic tape. And now when they start phase two, their permitting may be held up by this ban.”

Weber said America has the largest supply of clean, affordable and reliable natural gas in the world. He said building more LNG terminals supports this industry and ensures economic growth, environmental, environmental improvements and security around the world.

Phelan noted the Sempra LNG project is the No. 1 project in the U.S. — this means Southeast Texas is being impacted by the president’s policy.

Phelan noted the classroom behind him, a place to teach the next generation of oil and gas workers and that one gas industry pumped $6.3 billion into the economy at the state and local level this past year.

This money also funds bridges, public education and fills the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

“It puts a roof over our heads in Port Arthur and all through Southeast Texas. It’s just wrong,” Phelan said of the federal halt.

The roundtable discussion, which was not open to media, featured Weber, Phelan and Bartie, as well as representatives of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, Sabine Pilots, Sabine Holding group, LSCPA, Sabine Pass Port Authority, Port Arthur LNG, Cheniere LNG and Golden Pass LNG.

Bartie said the Biden-Harris Administration needs to rethink its position on the permits, taking into account the ill effect on the community. He cited the thousands of jobs here because the LNG industry chose Southeast Texas for their growth.

The moratorium isn’t impacting LNG’s current workings but does halt expansions and additional construction.

While there is no current cost estimate on dollars lost, Phelan said there is a ripple effect.

More than 100 small businesses directly supply Golden Pass LNG on a daily basis from dirt to concrete, the pipes, the maintenance — so that’s one aspect, he said.

“Now imagine the $4 billion investment at Sempra that’s now being paused,” he said. “Imagine all the vendors and all business owners that no longer are able to participate in that project. It impacts the Port of Sabine Pass. Their bonding authority is being held up now. They can’t make investment decisions as far as expanding the port without knowing whether or not this project is going to happen.”

Phelan said the halt is not a popular policy.

“The average American, the average Texan, I know the average Southeast Texan does not appreciate this policy,” he said.

“They actually think LNG is a clean product. It’s a stable product. It greatly impacts our European colleagues and our allies in Europe and Asia. And, of course, here in Texas, it’s just jobs. We have a product people want to buy around the world, and we should be able to sell it.”