EnergyFederalNatural Gas Export Permits Approved After Federal Nominations Held Hostage by Sen. Cruz

Cruz has deployed the maneuver before; in May, a Port Arthur facility benefited from the senate forcing approval of its permit through.
December 21, 2022
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the approval of permits to export liquefied natural gas to Asia after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) held four agency nominees hostage.

Two Sempra Energy facilities on the West Coast will now be able to ship Texas-produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia, increasing the supply that competes with Russia to fuel the rest of the continent. They will also allow the transport of LNG supplies by pipeline to Mexico.

The approvals come after the Biden administration’s reticence and Cruz’s corresponding holds placed on four nominees to positions in the DOE. Those nominees are David Crane, to work under DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm; Jeffrey Matthew Marootian and Gene Rodrigues, both nominated to serve as assistant secretaries; and Evelyn Wang, up for director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

A Senate procedural tool, the hold is “an informal practice by which a senator informs Senate leadership that he or she does not wish a particular measure or nomination to reach the floor for consideration.”

Cruz used a similar maneuver back in May to force permit approvals, including one for a Port Arthur facility.

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“This decision is a long overdue win for Texas and America,” Cruz spokesman Dave Vasquez said in a statement provided to The Texan.

“These permits will enable West Coast liquified natural gas export facilities to send U.S. natural gas from Texas and other Western states by pipeline to Mexico, and from there export the LNG to Asia. As a result, American allies and partners in Asia will have access to newer and cleaner alternatives to the coercive energy blackmail pushed by Russia and China.”

The permits will enable the cheaper sale of Texas LNG supply to Asia; it also enables shippers to avoid the congested Panama Canal, thus expediting the supply. In total, the two permits will allow the exchange of 2.33 trillion cubic feet per year of LNG.

In 2021, Texas producers generated 10.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Cruz and others supportive of the permits cite their importance to continue replacing coal and biomass electricity generation with natural gas — a less emissions-intensive fuel. One example of this trend putting downward pressure on emissions is playing out in the U.S. The Biden administration made it a priority to reduce U.S. emissions 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 — a target the country had already gotten halfway to without any massive overhaul of the energy sector.

But elsewhere in the world, especially in less developed countries, coal is becoming the power generation rule rather than the exception.

In its annual report, the International Energy Agency expects global coal use to increase 1.2 percent in 2022. China’s use is expected to grow 5 percent, India’s 7 percent, and Southeast Asia’s 14 percent.

Energy writer Robert Bryce described this as an example of his “Iron Law of Electricity”: “People, businesses, & countries will do whatever they have to do to get the electricity they need.”

“They’re not going to stay in the dark. Love it or hate it, coal is here to stay [as an energy source], particularly in Asia.”

Cruz’s maneuver secures another outlet for Texas’ supply of natural gas — a key facet of the state’s economy.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.