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LNG's hurry up-and-wait era

Illustration of cylindrical gas storage containers painted with exclamation points.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The LNG permitting fight is on extended hold.

Why it matters: All sides are now dug in for a political brawl — with low odds for new policy news anytime soon.

Driving the news: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm reiterated Wednesday that the department's review of LNG export terminal permitting "should be completed by the end of this year or the beginning of next year."

  • Granholm didn't disclose the review's final outcome. But in a heated exchange with Rep. Austin Pfluger, she said that after the review, the department will "authorize" some sort of activity.
  • "We're putting a hold on [them] while there's all this stuff in the queue so that we know when we authorize next, what that will look like," she said. "It's not a ban."

What they're saying: E&C Energy Subcommittee Chair Jeff Duncan said afterward that Granholm's words gave him the impression that DOE will ultimately continue issuing permits after the review.

  • "I believe this pause, or ban, is going to be lifted sooner or later," he told Axios.

Between the lines: After months of back-and-forth, it's unlikely we'll see much more activity on this issue now that Cabinet secretary budget hearings are winding down.

  • There's not much left for House Republicans to do short of subpoenaing the administration, after passing a messaging bill to forcibly lift the pause.

Zoom in: House Science, Space and Technology Republicans sent a letter two weeks ago railing against the administration for not giving them enough info about the LNG review.

  • They haven't gotten what they've asked for, per a spokesperson.
  • On E&C, a GOP aide simply told Axios Republicans will be seeking more "opportunities to highlight the issue with other parts of the administration."

The other side: Climate Defiance founder Michael Greenberg said Duncan's optimism in response to Granholm concerned him — and that his group wouldn't "be shy" to "raise hell" if it sees "backsliding" from the administration.

  • Greenberg, whose group's event disruptions precluded the pause, said he got a commitment from White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi to meet after a sit-down with John Podesta late last year.
  • The group is planning to protest at the annual congressional baseball game.
  • A similar demonstration was expected last year, only to turn out to be a dud. But Greenberg promised this one will be hard to ignore: "We're going there to send a message that it's unacceptable for Congress to be literally playing games while the planet burns."
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