Federal Court Halts Biden Administration’s Ban on LNG Exports: The Liberty Justice Center and Pelican Institute Praise Ruling Limiting Executive Overreach

July 2, 2024

On July 1, a federal court issued a ruling halting the Biden Administration’s ban on the export of liquid natural gas (LNG), effective immediately.

Ruling on a legal challenge jointly filed by sixteen states through their attorneys general, the U.S District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division, announced its decision to grant the states’ request for a preliminary injunction. The injunction takes effect immediately and will halt the Biden Administration’s LNG export ban in its entirety while litigation continues.

On May 16, the Liberty Justice Center and Pelican Institute co-filed a lawsuit which also challenges the LNG export ban on behalf of an association of oil and gas workers. The lawsuit argues that the ban violates federal law and the separation of powers, abuses the federal government’s discretionary authority, and poses significant harm to the economy.

The Liberty Justice Center and the Pelican Institute for Public Policy praised yesterday’s ruling by the District Court for pushing back against executive overreach, upholding the separation of powers, and requiring government agencies to answer for their violations of federal law.

Yesterday’s ruling particularly highlighted the challengers’ argument that the January 2024 ban inexplicably breaks with both historical precedent and the legal requirements for the approval process of LNG export licenses. The Court stated that it is “confused” by the decision to halt the approval process given the Natural Gas Act’s “express language that applications are to be processed expeditiously”—and given the rejection of a petition for a functionally identical ban only a few months prior. Notably, when the Department of Energy dismissed that petition in July 2023, it stated that there is “no factual or legal basis” for “halt[ing] approval of pending applications to export LNG.”

The Court concluded its ruling by finding that the challengers to the ban are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim.

“We applaud the Court’s ruling and will press forward to ensure this preliminary injunction is enforced permanently,” said Loren Seehase, Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center. “The Biden Administration does not have the authority to overrule federal law and halt the approval process. We will continue to challenge this egregious overreach and hold government actors accountable for prioritizing a political agenda above the Constitution.”

“Tens of thousands of blue-collar Americans across the country depend on the LNG export industry to put food on the table. And they aren’t the only ones—the American economy hinges on access to reliable sources of energy. The Biden Administration’s ban not only threatens all of that, but also disregards federal law and damages the structure of our government,” said James Baehr, Special Counsel at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. “We look forward to seeing this unconstitutional and indefensible ban permanently struck down by the Court.”

Oil & Gas Workers Association v. Biden was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on May 16, 2024.

The legal filings in Oil & Gas Workers Association v. Biden are available here.


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