The Biden administration is pausing a decision on whether to approve what would be the largest natural gas export terminal in the United States, a delay that could stretch past the November election and spell trouble for that project and 16 other proposed terminals, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.
The White House is directing the Energy Department to expand its evaluation of the project to consider its impact on climate change, as well as the economy and national security, said these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations. The Energy Department has never rejected a proposed natural gas project because of its expected environmental impact.
The move comes as Mr. Biden gears up for what is likely to be a contentious re-election campaign. He is courting climate voters, particularly the young activists who helped him win election in 2020 and who have been angered by his administration’s approval last year of the Willow project, an enormous oil drilling operation in Alaska.
It also comes as the United States leads the world in both liquefied natural gas exports and oil and gas production. The country has seven export terminals with five more already under construction.