U.S. President Joe Biden has sparked a heated discussion— not only in the U.S. but abroad — over his policy freezing the approval process of new LNG export projects until further analysis is complete. While many U.S. oil and gas producers have yet to officially sound off publicly on the decision, they should be pondering its impacts.

Doubts will not be limited to what this means for U.S. LNG exporting dominance; environmental issues around the Permian Basin and other LNG feed gas; emission reductions and safety issues at LNG facilities; and greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) across the entire gas supply chain. Other things to consider might include what this means in terms of future increases in U.S. piped-gas to Mexico to feed proposed Mexican LNG export facilities, as well as uncertainties around foreign policies dating to the Trump administration.

Biden’s mandate specifically relates to whether “additional LNG export authorization requests to non-FTA countries are in the public interest.”

The key phrase here is “public interest” and how it relates to the U.S. economy, national security, energy security, environment and GHG emissions. Surely methane and CO2 aren’t considered the “good” in any debate about the climate-changing impacts of the upstream, downstream and midstream sectors, but they might be the “bad” and the “ugly.”

To be clear, Biden’s “temporary pause on pending applications” doesn’t apply to already authorized exports or some 48 Bcf/d, according the U.S. Department of Energy. That said, U.S. LNG exports are still expected to nearly double by the end of this decade, meaning the U.S. will continue to jockey with Qatar and Australia for bragging rights as the world’s top LNG supplier.

It should be noted that U.S. gas production is expected to average 104 Bcf/d in 2024 with U.S. LNG exports averaging 12.1 Bcf/d (11.6% of total production), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In 2025, production is expected to be 106 Bcf/d, with exports totaling 14.4 Bcf/d (13.6%).

While current offtake agreements tied to already approved projects have been spared, the ramifications of Biden’s landmark move are really about supplying the Asian market post-2030, many LNG analysts argue. It also relates to potential impacts on plans for investment across the gas supply chain and what will come of future offtake agreements involving Asia as well as other investors.

Some pundits say this is a muted discussion amid the U.S. presidential election cycle this year. Others wonder what will come of the mandate if Republicans retake the White House.

It’s necessary to consider Biden’s move in light of elections and, obviously, the Paris Agreement of 2015, a legally binding international treaty on climate change that aims to limit temperature increases to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. If Biden wants to show that the U.S. is leading the climate charge, this was maybe his second one-two punch before the November election. The first punch was the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Despite these jabs, as hard and fast as the president can deliver them, the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) continues to argue that unless GHGs fall dramatically, global warming could surpass 2.9 C this century.

It needs to be documented that Biden’s LNG mandate might have an impact opposite the goal of reducing global warming. Coal usage around the world could increase if and when countries in the future looking to transition to gas don’t have the resources.

On that point, many players betting on U.S. LNG might have to start playing it in four-year or eight-year cycles, depending on who wins the White House. That plays in Qatar’s favor since alternating control of leadership in the U.S. is a non-issue under Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad’s watch in Qatar since he exercises full executive power.

The Qataris want to edge out the U.S. at the top of the LNG supply chain. That leaves no room for doubt about their plans to exploit the over 900 Tcf of gas, around 10% of the world’s known reserves, found in Qatar’s non-associated North Field, the largest of its type in the world. Qatar’s next moves will add around 49 million tonnes per annum (mpta) in LNG export capacity to its 80.1 mtpa in 2022, keeping the pressure on the U.S. (80.5 mtpa in 2022), according to data from the International Gas Union (IGU), and Australian producers (80.9 mtpa).

Biden’s mandate again brings into the fold discussions about the energy trilemma—affordability, security and sustainability. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine emphasized its importance. The recent rise in tensions in the Middle East shows that it’s still an issue.