The Liberty Justice Center and Pelican Institute for Public Policy jointly filed a lawsuit to challenge a ban imposed by US Prsident Biden’s administration on the authorisation of new and pending LNG export applications on Thursday.

In a press statement, the Liberty Justice Center said that since 1938, a federal law entitled the Natural Gas Act has regulated the approval of LNG exportation.

This legislation presumes that LNG export applications are almost always in the public interest, and therefore requires the Secretary of the Department of Energy to approve the applications unless the department makes specific findings showing that an individual application is not in the public’s interest, according to the Liberty Justice Center.

The Liberty Justice Center and Pelican Institute’s lawsuit challenges the ban, arguing that it contravenes the Natural Gas Act’s mandate, violates the separation of powers, exceeds the executive branch’s designated authority by attempting to create law, fails to follow proper rule-making procedure, is an abuse of discretion, and poses significant harm to the economy by interfering with a key industry.

Loren Seehase, senior counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, said: “Nothing in the Natural Gas Act grants any federal officer, even the President, the authority to halt the approval process, and yet the Biden administration has tried just that. The administration will continue to disregard the constitution and federal law until a court upholds the rule of law – and our lawsuit aims to make sure the court will.”

In late January, the US Government announced a temporary ban on approvals for LNG exports to countries without free trade agreements, enabling the Department of Energy to review the economic and environmental impacts of LNG export projects, as stated by the government.

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Two months later, 16 Republican-led states filed a lawsuit against the federal government’s ban, saying it lacked “factual and legal basis”.

Attorneys from states including Wyoming, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana and Florida filed the lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, claiming the halt on LNG exports will damage the US economy and hinder efforts to reduce its reliance on piped gas from Russia.