In what is being viewed as a setback for the Biden administration’s climate change plans, a US federal judge has blocked the US Government from continuing to pause the approval of applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG).

According to US media reports, Judge James Cain in Lake Charles, Louisiana, sided with 16 Republican-led states and said the US Department of Energy’s freeze on LNG export approvals was “without reason or logic”.

A spokesperson for the department said it disagreed with the ruling and is now evaluating next steps.

Cain said the states were likely to succeed in showing the pause went against the Natural Gas Act, and could even be unconstitutional.

The energy department’s actions were “above and beyond its scope of authority”, he said.

After reviewing “voluminous studies attached as exhibits” they all reveal the economic and environmental benefits of exporting natural gas, he concluded.

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The pause was announced in January, which the government said would allow officials to review the economic and environmental impacts of projects seeking approval to export LNG to Europe and Asia.

A White House spokesperson said in a statement that the administration remains “committed to informing our decisions with the best available economic and environmental analysis, underpinned by sound science”.

They added: “The US remains the world’s largest exporter of LNG, and is currently on track to more than double existing capacity by the end of this decade.”