White House

White House Says Natural Gas Is Cleaner Than Coal After Officials Were “Influenced” by Study Saying Exact Opposite

DCNF(DCNF)—The White House recently said that natural gas is cleaner than coal after Biden administration officials were reportedly “influenced” by a questionable study that arrived at the opposite conclusion.

In a Thursday blog post to the official White House website, the Council of Economic Advisors cited U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showing that natural gas has contributed the most to emissions reductions in the U.S. power sector since 1990 and asserted that “natural gas is roughly half as carbon-intensive as coal.” Those points appear to be at odds with a recent study by Cornell University’s Robert Howarth, which “influenced the White House” ahead of its Jan. 26 decision to pause new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Howarth’s study — which has been revised several times and received financial support from an expressly anti-natural gas non-profit — concluded that “greenhouse gas emissions from LNG are also larger than those from domestically produced coal, ranging from 44% to more than 2-fold greater.” Data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the EIA demonstrates clearly that U.S. power sector emissions have fallen sharply over the same period of time in which the use of natural gas to power the American economy has increased to replace coal.

The White House said that the pause was necessary to assess the climate impacts of new LNG export hubs alongside economic and security considerations. Critics of the decision have pointed out that the pause will actually increase global emissions by further incentivizing would-be European and Asian importers of U.S. LNG to burn coal or import LNG from countries like Qatar and Russia that do not produce LNG as cleanly as American firms.

Opponents of the LNG pause have also painted it as a political decision intended to appease the environmental left and its well-funded activist organizations ahead of the 2024 elections. The campaign to curb LNG exports received financial support from American billionaires, while climate activists — including a 25-year old TikTok influencer and members of the disruptive outfit known as Climate Defiance — were granted an audience with the White House to discuss LNG exports ahead of the decision.

The Biden administration touts its massive environmental agenda as the “most ambitious” in American history, spending more than $1 trillion to promote green energy development and aggressively regulating markets to reshape the American economy in the long-term.

While environmental activists commended the LNG pause and have generally supported Biden for his work on climate, the administration’s agenda does not appear to be making a considerable impression on the wider electorate. In March, a Wall Street Journal poll found that only 2% of surveyed registered voters in key battleground states listed climate change as the most important issue in the 2024 election, compared to 25% who identified immigration as the biggest issue and 22% who indicated that the economy was their leading concern.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

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