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Focus: How Shipping more US Natural Gas to Europe Helped Fuel CO2 Pollution

Carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. liquefied natural gas facilities have jumped to 18 million tons per year, up 81% since 2019, adding a volume of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere equivalent to that produced by several big coal plants, according to United States government data.

They could more than double to 45 million tons per year by the end of the decade as new facilities, encouraged by soaring overseas demand for the super-cooled fuel, come online, according to company projections provided to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission tallied by Reuters.

The emissions figures and projections, which have not been previously reported, reflect a troublesome tradeoff for the Biden administration, which wants to boost fuel shipments to European allies while also cutting greenhouse gas output at home to fight climate change.

The Biden White House has said U.S. LNG can help Europe reduce its dependence on gas supplies from Russia, which is facing western sanctions over its war in Ukraine. The administration approved five U.S. LNG export licenses to serve the European market following Russia’s invasion, having approved none beforehand.

The White House did not return messages seeking comment on the increase in emissions from the LNG sector. The Energy Department, which oversees LNG export permitting, said it is funding several initiatives focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from LNG terminals and other sources.

U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry told Reuters last year that greenhouse gas emissions were an inevitable “downside” to increasing LNG exports to European allies.

Carbon dioxide emissions from all seven operating U.S. LNG export facilities totaled 17.6 million tons in 2022, up 81% since 2019 when the sector had 6 facilities, according to EPA data.

Source : Reuters

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