by Nick Pope
American billionaires bankrolled an activist campaign targeting liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals that influenced the White House’s decision to pause new and pending approvals for the projects, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The philanthropic organizations of the Rockefeller family and Democratic megadonor Michael Bloomberg cumulatively provided millions of dollars to activists who pressured Biden administration officials to crack down on LNG export hubs over the past several years, according to the WSJ. The activists ultimately got their way on Jan. 26, when the White House announced that the administration would pause new project approvals as the Department of Energy (DOE) widens the scope of its reviews to include climate impacts of LNG export terminals alongside considerations like national security and economic benefits.
The activists that received funding from charities controlled by Bloomberg and the Rockefellers were able to access White House and federal officials in places including Washington, Houston and Dubai, according to the WSJ. Officials in the Biden administration told the WSJ that the activist campaign influenced them to some extent.
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“They got our attention,” one anonymous senior official in the Biden administration told the WSJ regarding the activist campaign against LNG export hubs.
The Rockefeller Family Fund established the Funder Collaborative on Oil and Gas in 2018 to encourage funders of green activism to step up their focus on the American oil and gas industry, according to the WSJ. In 2019, the Funder Collaborative on Oil and Gas reportedly communicated with other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to gauge interest in a wider push to confront the U.S. LNG industry.
The billionaire-backed charities identified local activists already fighting LNG development in areas like the Gulf Coast, and then started supporting them financially, according to the WSJ. “Grassroots” activists involved in the campaign were able to access officials like Senior Adviser to the President John Podesta, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and DOE Office of Economic Impact and Diversity Director Shalanda Baker.
The administration was also reportedly influenced by “new science” on the potential climate impacts of LNG terminals, according to the WSJ. Though the report does not specify which study or studies may have impacted decision-makers, it is possible that the science referenced in the WSJ’s report is a recent paper by Cornell University Prof. Robert Howarth that has received considerable attention from corporate media outlets and eco-activist organizations, according to Politico.
However, that study has not yet been peer-reviewed, and Horwath is a “longtime sparring partner with the gas industry,” according to Politico. The study concludes that there is a clear “need to move away from the use of LNG as a fuel as quickly as possible, and to immediately stop construction of any new LNG infrastructure.”
While activist organizations and the White House touted the decision as a decisive step to counter climate change, energy sector experts previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the move could actually increase global emissions while empowering foreign natural gas production in places like Russia and Qatar.
The Rockefeller family Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the White House did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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Nick Pope is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Natural Gas Power Plant” by Jon Sullivan. CC BY-NC 2.0.