A billionaire-backed, years-long campaign against fossil fuels played a significant role in President Joe Biden’s decision to freeze approvals of new permits for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Wealthy donors, including members of the Rockefeller family and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, gave millions of dollars to activists and environmental groups to lobby against fossil fuels such as LNG.
"They got our attention," a senior Biden administration official said, referring to the environmental groups. Officials also cited the need to better understand LNG’s emissions and impact on the economy and national security as reasons for Biden’s January decision to pause permits for LNG export terminals.
Biden’s order won praise from many Democrats and environmental groups, including ones funded by the billionaire donors that lobbied for the move.
"The pause … is the result of a sustained four-year push that built upon years of opposition to gas exports by community groups and lawyers," Sarah Brennan, an associate director at the Rockefeller Family Fund, said in an email to environmental groups after Biden's decision, according to the Journal, adding that "the White House recognized the power [of] this campaign."
Fossil fuel industry leaders, however, have slammed Biden’s action. Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, lamented last month, "This is a win for Russia and a loss for American allies, U.S. jobs, and global climate progress."
"There is no review needed to understand the clear benefits of U.S. LNG for stabilizing global energy markets, supporting thousands of American jobs, and reducing emissions around the world by transitioning countries toward cleaner fuels," Sommers noted.