Worries in Europe Over the White House Move to Delay Gas Terminals

To be clear, in making this move, the Biden administration seems unlikely to jeopardize supplies to customers outside the United States this year or anytime soon. The decision does not apply to current exports, and analysts say it will not stop a group of new L.N.G. projects that have already been approved and are under construction. These are likely to substantially boost the capacity of the United States to export gas in the coming years.

The administration says it wants time to determine whether additional L.N.G. projects, ones still on the drawing boards, would be in the public interest. Such analysis would include weighing the greenhouse gas emissions that future projects would produce, as well as their impact on the economy and national security. In a statement, President Biden said the pause on approvals “sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time.”

The Biden administration appears to be trying to reassure countries that have come to rely on U.S. natural gas. This pause will “not impact our ability to supply our allies in Europe, Asia or other recipients of already authorized U.S. exports,” the Department of Energy said Friday in a statement.

Analysts say that what may unsettle allies, especially in Europe, is the message that they may no longer be able to count so firmly on supplies from the United States in coming years. “What this really highlights for Europe is, you are running out of options,” said Henning Gloystein, a director for energy and climate change at Eurasia Group, a political risk firm.

While Russia does supply Europe with liquefied natural gas now, European leaders want to reduce those flows. The eastern Mediterranean looks doubtful as a major source in the future because of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Aside from the United States, the other likely major producer of additional liquefied natural gas is Qatar, a tiny Middle Eastern emirate.

Mr. Gloystein said L.N.G. from the United States was particularly attractive for European buyers because the shipping distances from North America are relatively short and the terms that American suppliers provide are much more flexible than those of most other sources. For instance, they usually allow a buyer to easily resell gas, whereas other gas powers like Qatar often impose restrictions. “The U.S. is the one that matters,” he said.

Ana Swanson and Melissa Eddy contributed reporting.

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