U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Daniel Sullivan argued against the recent LNG pause announced by U.S. President Joe Biden, citing worries from U.S. allies in Asia and Europe as well as U.S. national security concerns.

“The pause has to be paused,” Manchin told journalists on March 18 at a press conference during CERAWeek by S&P Global. “The pause has to be stopped until the facts of what we’re dealing with supports the target that you are trying to get.”

Studies haven’t been done, and everyone is concerned, said Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. Manchin added that the government needs to answer questions about potential growth, and how to support U.S. allies abroad, among other concerns.

Biden’s “temporary pause on pending applications” does not apply to already authorized exports or some 48 Bcf/d, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Details related to the pause were initially revealed on Jan. 26.

“We’ve got to have dispatchable fuel in order for us to have a transition, whenever that might happen,” Manchin said. “I’m just not going to ever be supportive of taking any dispatchable fuel off the market until you show me you have something that will do exactly what it does 24/7 without any disruptions.”

Sullivan, an Alaskan Republican, also pointed to growing concerns from U.S. allies about the pause, citing comments from what he called “senior-most allies in Germany” as well as others in Asia who have expressed concerns.

Dan Sullivan CERAWeek
U.S. Sen. Daniel Sullivan, an Alaskan Republican. (Source: CERAWeek by S&P Global)

“It’s time to lift this LNG pause. It’s having serious consequences with regard to our national security and the national security of our allies,” he said. Not only that, it’s already driving interest in possibly more investments in places like Qatar … which the day after the pause announced a significant increase in their LNG operations,” Sullivan said.

On Qatar, Sullivan said that the country could be up to dominating 25% of global LNG.

“The Russians reached out to the Germans after the pause announcement with regard to gas. That is exactly the opposite of the policies that we have been trying to undertake in a bipartisan way for our country, after the brutal invasion of Ukraine, which is to get our allies and enable them to get off Russian oil and gas. This is a strategy that is upside down in terms of what we’re trying to do as a country.”

Manchin and Sullivan revealed their concerns shortly after comments from U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on March 18 at CERAWeek that argued that the pause on LNG exports was a routine review.

During her presentation, Granholm said the DOE is conducting a data-based assessment of what further expansion of U.S. exports means “for our climate, for global energy, for national and global security for our allies and for domestic prices.”

Sullivan compared U.S. LNG to a weapon that was a must for U.S. allies that are dependent on imported gas, either piped or delivered through LNG shipments.

“In Asia and Europe [our allies] are very concerned [about the pause] and it is not the time to be taking away one of the most critical weapons that we have provided our fellow allies in Asia and Europe, and that’s American energy,” Sullivan said.

“If [Donald] Trump is reelected, which I’m hopeful he will be, the regulator approach with regard to energy, I’m very confident, is going to change,” Sullivan said.