Environmentalists criticized the announcement because they fear it will commit the United States and Europe to using fossil fuels for decades longer than they argue is feasible given the growing toll of global warming.
The Russia-Ukraine War and the Global Economy
“There is no way to ramp up U.S. L.N.G. exports and deliver on the imperative climate commitments that the U.S. and E.U. have pledged,” said Abigail Dillen, the president of Earthjustice, an environmental law organization. She warned that the buildup of L.N.G. infrastructure would “lock in expensive fossil dependence and dangerous pollution for decades to come.”
American and European officials also agreed to seek ways to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from L.N.G. infrastructure and pipelines and to reduce the escape of methane from gas operations.
The Biden administration has banned Russian energy imports as part of a broader set of sanctions against Mr. Putin, a relatively easy step for the United States to take because it is a net exporter of energy. Some U.S. lawmakers would like the European Union to stop buying oil and gas from Russia altogether, but the prospect for that has been dismissed by several E.U. leaders, who see it as a financially disastrous step that would hurt Europe more than Russia.
Still, some energy experts said a further escalation of the war, or a decision by Mr. Putin to use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, could leave the E.U. with little choice but to bar the purchase of Russian energy.
“We want as Europeans to diversify away from Russia, toward suppliers that we trust that are friends and that are reliable,” Ms. von der Leyen of the European Commission said at the announcement with Mr. Biden. “Therefore the U.S. commitment to provide the European Union with an additional at least 15 billion cubic meters of L.N.G. this year is a big step in this direction, because this will replace the L.N.G. supply we currently receive from Russia.”
For oil and gas executives, who have grown accustomed to being criticized for not doing enough to combat climate change, the Friday announcement represented a welcome change in tone. But they said Mr. Biden and Ms. von der Leyen would have to be patient and recognize that decisions on who sold gas to whom would be made across negotiating tables by private companies, not by politicians.
“This is a capitalist system,” said Tellurian’s Mr. Souki. “Its people like me who make those decisions. The government can’t tell us where to send the gas.”
Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.