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President Trump won't admit it, but he's taking credit for something President Obama did. In a speech at the Energy Department Thursday, Trump is expected to tout America's oil and natural gas boom, and in particular how his administration is green lighting exports of liquified natural gas (LNG), which has been a presidential talking point for the last few months.

But it was actually the Obama administration that approved nearly all of the LNG poised to be exported, and Trump is so far just reiterating what his predecessor did.

Expand chart

Why it matters: The Trump administration has displayed a lot of positive rhetoric about LNG exports, but so far it hasn't made any explicit policy changes to how the federal government reviews applications for LNG. An Energy Department spokeswoman declined on Wednesday to say whether Trump will make any related policy announcements in his speech Thursday.

How it works: Under current law, countries that do have free-trade agreements with the U.S. get a near automatic approval from the federal government to receive U.S. LNG. Applications seeking to export to countries that aren't free-trade partners with the U.S. must go through a two-step review process to show such exports are in the U.S. national interest. The Energy Department has approved additional LNG export applications under Trump, continuing what Obama did.

What's already done: Under Obama, the Energy Department rejiggered the way federal reviews are done to speed up — not slow down — the whole process, to the chagrin of some environmental groups. In 2014, the Energy Department cut down the process, which also involves the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, from three steps to two.

What more could be done: Rhetoric encouraging countries, like China, to import LNG from the U.S. has been the main thing Trump is doing so far. To really change things, Trump could do one of the following things:

  1. Push Congress to change the 1938 law governing exports of LNG, which is unlikely given lawmakers' unwillingness to change most long-standing laws.
  2. Further condense the federal review process.
  3. Strike more free-trade deals, which seems unlikely given his positions on current trade deals.

To be sure: Obama took credit for things his predecessor did too. In 2011, he was touting increased offshore oil and natural gas production, even though a top official in his administration at the time said such increases were due to policies his predecessor, George W. Bush, put in place that increased access to federal waters.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

2 hours ago - Science

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

Ingenuity on the surface of Mars, filmed by NASA's Perseverance rover. Photo: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hovering the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.