Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG, has been at the forefront of the global discussion on climate policy, energy, and emissions for decades. Natural gas advocates say it is an environmentally safer alternative to traditional, emissions-heavy fossil fuels such as coal and heating oil.

The Biden administration, which just two years ago called for more production of natural gas in efforts to blunt the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has now pivoted away from it. In January 2024, the administration announced a temporary ban, or “pause,” on new LNG export licenses to suppliers to assess the greenhouse gas impact of LNG in global supply chains. Administration officials, under pressure from climate activists, have rallied against LNG’s purported eco-friendliness vis-a-vis other fuel sources. They also argue the pause is necessary to incorporate LNG’s climate impact in the “public interest” when determining the approval or rejection of LNG export projects.

But what does the science say?

A new study published by Berkeley Research Group (BRG), a leading economics and industry research firm, represents a watershed moment for emissions-based data collection. Its findings clarify the contentious dialogue surrounding LNG in the United States and around the world and show its true impact on the environment.

By comparing the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy output of U.S. LNG, pipeline natural gas, and coal in 13 international markets in Europe and Asia, the study found that U.S. LNG is cleaner in its lifecycle than coal and cleaner than Russian pipeline natural gas in every case studied. Importantly, by analyzing emissions from production, processing, shipping, and ground transportation, the study captures the complete value chain of each fuel type.

The data also shows that American LNG produces less than half of the resulting emissions of coal-generated electricity in international markets in Europe and Asia. In fact, if U.S. LNG replaced coal-generated power in these 13 markets for just one year, it would save the emissions equivalent of 153 million to 397 million cars (or 170,000 – 440,000 kilotons of carbon dioxide equivalent).

This remarkable finding conclusively shows that LNG is a dramatically safer, cleaner alternative to burning coal. This should not be overlooked because global coal use is not decreasing. On the contrary, electricity generation and exports from coal hit record highs just last year.

The environmental advantage of U.S. LNG also holds true when compared to piped natural gas in foreign export markets.

Put simply, American LNG is now among the least emission-intensive sources of energy in the world.

These findings are enormously important to understanding global environmental realities. They should inform dialogue and relevant policy decisions in energy security and climate policy within the Biden administration.

For years, experts on energy policy and American LNG producers have urged federal officials to continue to approve new LNG export licenses because LNG is the best way to secure our energy independence and reliability, while still minimizing the overall risk to our communities and environment. Now they have reinforced scientific evidence to support those claims.

Today, people around the globe rely on natural gas to generate electricity, heat, and fuel in homes and businesses. In one of the most remarkable sources of strength, American LNG is helping our allies push back against Vladimir Putin’s Russia. American natural gas is protecting democracy now and in the future. Without it, the alternative is greater reliance on Putin and other authoritarians.

The results are in: American LNG is the safest, cleanest option we have to power our economy through increasingly uncertain global market forces, while ensuring that we act responsibly and use energy like natural gas that makes for a cleaner and greener country and world. The Biden administration would be wise (and would receive due credit) to reverse the LNG pause and harness the potential of American natural gas.