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  • Trump’s Assassination Attempt in Brief

    On July 13th, the U.S. had its first assassination attempt of a presidential candidate since 1981 when John Hinckley Jr. shot Reagan. During a rally in Butler, PA, at the Butler Farm Show fairgrounds. Trump spoke in front of three barns, two of which had sniper teams (positioned on sloped roofs). The shooter, Matthew Crooks, shot at and missed Trump, killing an audience member and wounding two others. Crooks had a limited online presence and no manifesto (that has been found). His phone contained pictures of political leaders and schedules for the Trump rally and Democratic National Convention, alluding to his intentions to attend both events. He had no clear political leaning. Being a registered Republican, he also donated to the left-wing group ActBlue’s “Progressive Turnout Project” on the day Biden was inaugurated. The Progressive Turnout Project focuses on pushing Democrats who vote infrequently to vote in upcoming elections. This highlighted either a shift in political views or that he was possibly a “never-Trump” Republican.  Secret Service Director Cheatle said in an interview with ABC that the building’s sloped roof, where Crooks shot from, was too steep, posing a risk to officers placed upon it. The Secret Service then assigned local law enforcement to secure the building. The local District Attorney for Butler, PA, Richard Goldinger, stated that their personnel had communicated with the Secret Service that they didn’t have enough resources to secure the building properly.  Reportedly, the sniper teams behind Trump had caught Crooks acting strangely, looking up at the building about an hour before the shooting. They then lost sight of him in the crowd, but officers kept looking for a suspicious individual after the initial sighting. He was later spotted on the roof with a range finder roughly 20 minutes before the shooting, along with attendees noticing that Crooks was on top of the building - to varying degrees of pre and post-awareness. Local law enforcement securing the building went up to check out the figure on the roof. When they got up there, Crooks pointed a gun at them. They fell back - then moments later, Crooks opened fire.  Director Cheatle is now called to provide testimony before the House Oversight Committee and House Homeland Security Committee next week.

  • Explaining Rising Unemployment, the ‘Soft Landing,’ and Hopeful Rate Cuts

    American unemployment has risen to 4.1%, the highest since November 2021, when we first adjusted to COVID-19 regulations (November 2021 was directly after the labor market recovered from the massive spike in unemployment). For additional comparison, 4.1% was the same rate in December 2017, which was a 13-year low at the time. This may incline you to believe that the current unemployment rate isn’t a cause for genuine concern, yet we have seen a steady increase in unemployment month over month this year.  With a job market seemingly under duress, the Federal Reserve may cut interest rates to inspire market growth. This would counter the ‘soft landing’ approach the U.S. has been enacting in the face of global economic upheaval. ‘Soft landing’ is simply a term used to describe the state of forcing the control of inflation by slowing the growth of the markets (an example of this forced slowing would be maintaining high interest rates). However, it may be necessary for the Federal Reserve to relax these measures to combat the current lack of job availability/hiring slows.  From the most recent June ‘Employment Situation’ report  from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job losses were mostly in retail, such as furniture, home furnishing, electronics, and appliance retailers - while warehouse clubs, supercenters, and merchandise retailers gained jobs. Additionally, there was a drop in employment for professional and business services, classified “temporary help services” (firms that provide temporary staffing solutions to other businesses). Professional, scientific, and technical services trended upward.  From the above mentioned report (on page 7) it is uncertain if undocumented immigrants were factored into survey results, as workers surveyed are not required to verify citizenship. The report even goes so far as to say, “It is likely that both surveys include at least some undocumented immigrants. However, neither the establishment nor the household survey is designed to identify workers' legal status.” Some economists think the rise in unemployment is business as usual. This is rationalized by the ‘soft landing’ approach, where pain points were foreseen as necessary shifts to regulate the economy. That may mean that the current unemployment rate is within the bounds of the Federal Reserve and that rate cuts may not actually come in September. If that were to be the case the Federal Reserve would seek to reduce inflation growth with manageable unemployment.

  • Explaining the European Shift to Right-Wing Candidates

    Within the EU, all 27 of the countries within the union hold elections, which take place every five years. This year, 2024, was an election year, with countries casting votes through June 6 - 9. Reps elected to the EU parliament make decisions related to European legislative, budgetary, and supervisory powers. With that, election results in 2024 showcased a rise in right-wing favorability, potentially leading to significant changes in legislative decisions. As there are multiple parties within the EU, the seven parties that comprise the parliament exist on a spectrum from left to right ideologies. This spectrum is divided by the two opposing centrist parties, the ‘Socialist & Democrat’(left-leaning) and the ‘European People’s Party’ (right-leaning). Throughout the EU's history, left-wing parties have had the majority rule in parliament. With the 2024 election results, this majority has shifted in favor of right-wing parties for the first time. This allows right-aligned parties to generate majority agreements on legislation, thereby influencing European governance.  This shift towards right-leaning parties is thought to be the result of lax immigration policies, green energy backlash, and the undermining of rural/working-class populations. A call for tighter immigration restrictions has led to the elections of nationalistic representatives across Europe. Given the nature of their politics, each will have a separate agenda when discussing policy in parliament. This type of nationalism is common among right-wing European politicians, to the detriment of the overall European right-wing, as it creates fragments of policy voters instead of a favorable unionized majority.  Green energy backlash stems from new measures implemented to shift citizens towards green energy sources, creating higher costs for the struggling middle class in Europe.  Environmental policy doesn’t stop at prodding the use of green energy. European farmers are also taking a heavy hit. Policies are increasing production costs while heavy constraints on their livelihoods are becoming harder and harder to comply with. On top of these aspects, the government has resorted to importing products from foreign competitors, leaving farmers dumbfounded as the same constraints do not apply to the foreign products being bought.  The legislation produced by the new EU parliament is not expected to be a drastic departure from regular policy. This is primarily due to the previously mentioned fracturing of individuals within right-wing parties, where nationalistic interest is more regarded. However, the swift shift from a left majority to a right-leaning one highlights a European population disengaged with its traditional governance. Some countries have even resorted to electing protest (or perhaps genuine) officials who were online personalities before being elected. Countries like Cyprus, Czechia, and Spain have all elected “influencers” to shake up their political systems.

  • Trump Trial: Charges & Conviction Easily Explained

    Donald Trump was convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records, Penal Law 175.10. This charge could result in up to four years in prison (per count). Other sentences like probation, community service, and fines are also possible. A person is guilty of this charge if the burden of proof has been met that financial records have been tampered with “an intent to defraud that includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof, that person: makes or causes a false entry in business records of an enterprise.” You can read the charges here. The prosecution needed to prove intent to commit another crime by falsifying business records to convict. In the public records, the only charges brought to the court were falsifying business records. It’s possible the evidence for the implied crime of intent may be weaker and was not brought to the court to be tried, as it could have negatively impacted the business record charges. Separately, the prosecution may want to try those charges later, with lower stakes in producing a conviction. The law the prosecution successfully implied intent to violate was the Federal Election Campaign Act. This Act limits the amounts received by candidates running for federal offices and imposes a standard of record-keeping for incoming and outgoing streams of money attached to these campaigns. Ultimately, paying hush money to Stormy Daniels showcased an intent to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act because of a technicality. This payment could have been legal if done correctly by the law. Since an individual can fund their campaign without a limit, a person (in this case, Donald Trump) could have used his money through the campaign to pay off Daniels. However, since the burden of quality record keeping falls on managing the campaign books, the transactions must be accurately recorded. The payments to Daniels were recorded as “legal expenses,” but under the law, since they were being paid to help Trump's candidacy, they should have been recorded as "campaign expenses.” Therefore, proving, at the very least, an intent to defraud and proof of falsifying records.

  • China May Block One of the Largest American Tech Deals: Creating the One-Stop Shop for Chip Design

    Synopsys is an American company in Sunnyvale, California; it provides its EDA (Electronic Design Automation), which assists customers in developing chips for products in numerous industries. Just some industries they service are transportation, medical, and manufacturing. Their EDA software suite even has AI-boosted assistance that helps make the design process easier for their partners to navigate. They have recently agreed to buy another American company named Ansys for a cash and stock acquisition of $35 billion, making this deal one of the largest in tech history. Ansys is headquartered in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, with a multinational presence in India, France, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and Japan. Ansys provides simulation technology to their clients so that they can test real-world scenarios on their products to enhance their designs. Ansys’s tech also has an AI-boosted component, adding directional synergy between the two companies. Synopsys and Ansys have been partnering for years to develop Ansys’s services. CEO of Synopsys, Sassine Ghazi, provided his rationale for why the new acquisition was necessary in his talk with CNBC. He has rationalized that the trend in AI will require further demand for chip/silicon design development and that partners will need more in-depth analyses of their designs. Synopsys has established partnerships with companies like Microsoft and Apple to assist in chip development and analysis for their products. With the acquisition of Ansys, Synopsys would further its capabilities by providing more in-depth analysis and functional design modifications by utilizing Ansys’s scenario simulation tech. Even though both American companies have agreed to the deal, Chinese regulators have a say in the deal's finalization. Synopsys generated 15.20% of its revenue from China in 2023 (data provided by the Bloomberg Terminal) – Ansys does not have a sizeable revenue from China. Mergers of this magnitude can impact global competition, which makes these huge deals liable to regulatory scrutiny by the markets affected. In this instance, Synopsys’s sizeable dealings in China give Chinese regulators approval authority over the acquisition. China has previously broken up other American deals, such as the Qualcomm & NXP Semiconductors deal in 2018. This was a $44 billion buy approved by eight other international regulators. Chinese regulators disapproved, and the deal was not finalized. There is speculation that China made this move due to growing trade tensions that have not dissipated today. The question is whether China will also write off the Synopsys & Ansys deal to prevent such a competitive company from forming in the United States. The deal has a closing deadline within the first half of 2025, which may indicate that the companies foresaw potential pushback. There is also speculation that the deal may be pushed to the beginning of 2025 to close under a Trump presidency that would be more lenient on M&A deals.

  • Vietnamese Real-Estate Investor Sentenced to Death: Largest Financial Scam in Vietnam’s History

    Truong My Lan was accused of bribing Saigon Joint Commercial Bank staff, appraisers, and Vietnamese government officials to approve and cover up $42 billion in fraudulent loans to shell companies under her control. There is still $27 billion in bank deposited funds that are outstanding, as she used bank funds to purchase hotels, condos, and office/retail spaces for her company. She was sentenced to death on April 11, with additional charges for bribery and violation of lending regulations - amounting to 40 years. Some believe the harshness of this sentence is to pressure Lan to provide the remaining $27 billion yet to be returned. She oversaw the merger of First Bank, TinNghiaBank, and Saigon Bank, forming SCB in 2012. Claiming a modest 4.9% of SCB shares on paper, she then utilized a web of shell corporations, business associates, and personal connections, including her husband, to amass a staggering 91.5% of SCB’s shares, a move that went unnoticed for years. She then strategically appointed individuals within the bank, granting them authority to authorize loans to the various entities she used to amass the 91.5% stake in SCB. Alongside Lan, 86 additional individuals, including 18 agents from Vietnam’s bank inspection agency, were implicated in this scandal. Lan made these moves while former Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was in office from 2006 to 2016. Infamously, under his control, Vietnam had a surge in corruption, which made the 2012 establishment of SCB susceptible to this kind of fraud. Under the current leadership, the Communist Party Leader, Nguyen Phu Trong, has been making anti-corruption efforts. Coined the “Blazing Furnace” campaign, Trong is going after long-standing officials and private sector individuals he and his party believe pose a risk and may have ties to the Tan Dung era of Vietnam. The escalation in anti-corruption efforts stems from the need for political and financial stability within Vietnam and making the country more attractive to Western allies with whom they would like to do business. If successful, Vietnam wants to be considered a stable trading partner over China.

  • Tennessee Volkswagen Plant Joins the United Auto Workers Union - Southern Unionization to Expand

    83% of employees at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN, factory voted to join the United Auto Workers Union on April 19. This marks the first time a foreign-owned factory in the American South has opted to unionize. Historically the South has been attractive to foreign investors mainly due to their political stances against unionization in the region. The United Auto Workers Union was formed in 1935 in Detroit, Michigan, during the blossoming of the American automotive industry. Americans formed together to seek recognition from the major auto companies General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford. This was due to workers feeling scared for their job security, as the workforce had just experienced widespread unemployment with the start of the Great Depression in 1929, with those effects lingering until 1941 (WWII). Within that same vein, the workforce at Volkswagen Chattanooga, TN, have been scared for their job security and wages. EV production continues to be pushed by corporate and political leaders. EVs are cutting into the revenues of automotive companies, as they cost more to produce than combustion cars. This sparks a fear in workers that the reduction in cash flow will negatively impact them. Not to mention, EVs are reportedly easier to build; Jim Farley, the CEO of Ford, said, “Electric vehicles will require 40% less labor to build than current combustion vehicles.” With these concerns, the employees at the Tennessee plant aligned to push for unionization to secure their hopeful future. The Chattanooga, TN, plant had voted against unionization twice, in 2014 and 2019. Volkswagen and TN Governor Bill Lee denounced these voters. Lee addressed the workforce in 2019, advising the labor body that unionizing was a mistake, leading to an unsuccessful unionization vote. However, in 2024, the employees received neutral feedback from VW regarding unionizing, and political leaders were too slow to deter voters before the Union vote. That did not stop political leaders from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas from issuing a joint statement against the plant workers' efforts. The full statement is here. Below is an excerpt from the joint statement. “The reality is companies have choices when it comes to where to invest and bring jobs and opportunity. . . Unionization would certainly put our states’ jobs in jeopardy – in fact, in this year already, all of the UAW automakers have announced layoffs. In America, we respect our workforce and we do not need to pay a third party to tell us who can pick up a box or flip a switch. . . we are seeing it in the fallout of the Detroit Three strike with those automakers rethinking investments and cutting jobs. Putting businesses in our states in that position is the last thing we want to do.” With this successful vote, the UAW now looks to represent the Mercedes Benz-Vance, Alabama plant workers, who have an upcoming union vote on May 18. This prompts some to believe that a wave of unionizations may sweep the southern automotive industry.

  • The Attempted Takeover of Disney: Explaining the 2022 to 2024 Power Struggle

    Nelson Peltz is an American activist investor with a history of working with brands such as Wendy’s, Dupont, and Heinz. An activist investor is someone with a position in a declining stock and attempts to control operations in order to increase that stock's value, leaving with a profit. Peltz took aim at Disney in 2022 after a continued loss in shareholder value, likely caused by the new leadership of former CEO Bob Chapek. Bob Chapek took over the CEO role at Disney from 2020 to 2022. He was chosen by Bob Iger to be Iger’s successor but ultimately failed to fulfill the role. The acting board and Iger rejected Peltz's prospect of launching a campaign to get voted in by shareholders at the next annual meeting. Peltz proposed spending cuts in areas such as labor and production, adding that Disney’s accused ‘woke’ agenda in film affected its bottom line. Iger stepped back in to counteract the proxy battle. Upon returning, Iger made cost cuts, which boosted returns and raised the stock price. Given that the price returned to a favorable level, Peltz backed off from his campaign. In 2023, Disney had a significant drop in share price, hitting a 9-year low of $84 a share. This prompted Peltz to seek a return and launched a campaign for two seats on the board of directors. Peltz’s Trian Partners owned 32.2 million shares of Disney, making them a shareholder that needed to be taken seriously by the acting board and other shareholders. Peltz’s close associate Isaac Perlmutter from Marvel Entertainment gave Trian this position. Perlmutter was ousted by Disney once Marvel was acquired by the company and has been quoted saying he believes the termination was due to differences in opinion regarding the production of Marvel movies. He gave his stock to Trian Partners to push change at Disney through Peltz. Within this struggle for shareholder support, Disney pointed to Peltz’s lack of media experience and strategy as grounds for rejection from the board. Disney called Peltz’s attempt to get on the board “disruptive and destructive.” Of course, Perlmutter backing Peltz adds personal vendetta to the narrative. Peltz / Trian Partners' appeal to shareholders preached cost efficiencies and reiterated concern for a 'woke' agenda at Disney that negatively impacted profits. The current Disney board made even more effort to boost the stock price in order to earn shareholder confidence before the finalized vote on April 3, 2024. See that meeting here. The board brought on new executives such as James Gorman from Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Jermey Dorroch, the former CEO of Sky (a European media and entertainment company). They even ramped up initiatives, investing in Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite. Their efforts resulted in profitable returns for the first quarter, growing earnings per share by 21% above what was expected. Coming out of April’s 2024 meeting, all 12 current board members, including Bob Iger, were re-elected. Trian Partners believes that they ultimately achieved their goal of boosting the company's performance, though not directly due to their business decisions, but rather their pressure on the company. Peltz said, “We hope that this time will be the last and that the shareholders will not be let down like a year ago.” Disney will now return to focus on settling its succession plan and hopes to build off of Q1’s earnings.

  • The Department of Education’s Disastrous FAFSA Rollout

    The Department of Education has been attempting a new rollout of FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in recent years after the FAFSA Simplification Act passed in December 2020. The new form was presented to the public in December of 2023, which contained technical errors that prevented families from being able to complete applications. The DOE worked to address the technical issues and a backlog of applicants who needed their applications processed formed. Colleges were prevented from providing aid estimates without the data from the DOE. This failure to substantiate a functional new system has led to calls for investigations into the Department’s process of setting up the new FAFSA. The DOE started providing data for the student FAFSA on March 10. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has recently stated some schools are still not fully prepared to receive this data, as infrastructure such as new “SAIG (Student Aid Internet Gateway) mailboxes” need to be set up by institutions to receive it. The extreme delay of a functional rollout puts pressure on schools to provide timely aid package estimates to students. Where usually, schools have months for these estimates, now will be done within weeks for millions of applicants across the country. To make matters worse, roughly 200,000 estimates provided by the Department of Education to schools were miscalculated. The error affected applicants who accounted for their assets and did not factor in financial savings, which made the calculations faulty. After discovering the error, the Department of Education advised schools to use updated methodology from the department to calculate the aid packages of students affected manually. The DOE has stated it will have to recalculate these packages to verify the amounts but didn’t disclose when it believes it will be able to. This direction from the Department of Education highlights how much it overestimates the resources of collegiate financial departments. These departments can't quickly make these kinds of financial aid estimates manually, which greatly impacts the rate at which these schools can turn around package estimates for the rest of their applicants. College students relying on financial aid estimates to inform their decisions on where to attend are uncertain about their next steps. This may result in prospective students not attending their first college semester, which could affect their returns to college. Some schools are offering merit scholarship students more money in aid to keep them in their freshman classes. Students expect to get their aid figures in mid-April, leaving about two weeks for students to decide where they will be going. Some schools still adhere to the May 1 application deadline, while as many as 190 colleges have already pushed back deadlines by two weeks to an additional month.

  • “Hugs Not Bullets” How Cartel Strategy Is a Running Issue for the 2024 Mexican Election

    Mexico has had a long-standing issue with cartel activity, which has exacerbated. Some point to the passive enforcement policies enacted by the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was previously the Mayor of Mexico City and elected president in 2018 after two failed previous attempts. He started the MONERA party, or “Movement for National Regeneration,” after his 2012 election loss and is still a member of MONERA today. The party is left-leaning and focuses on non-hierarchal leadership with an emphasis on the environment. MORENA has gained youth support through populist priorities such as wealth disparity. His new approach to cartel conflict, known as “hugs not bullets,” introduced passivity in the face of cartel crimes. This quote from Obrador best explains the rationale behind the strategy, “The human being is not bad by nature, circumstances lead them to take the path to antisocial behavior.” This means shifting the focus from law enforcement to prioritizing fighting the hypothetical root cause of corruption and poverty. The ‘“hugs not bullets” strategy is the successor of a previously militaristic approach from 2006 when ​​Felipe Calderón was in office and worked with the U.S.’s war on drugs. Calderón attempted to disrupt the cartel by attacking factions, arresting leaders, and fracturing their forces. Resulting in the cartel ending up in a desperate state where the violence rate inevitably tripled, with an estimated 150,000 deaths from 2006 to the present. The “hugs not bullets” strategy has pulled away from U.S. assistance with the cartel and disbanded the Mexican federal police, installing a national guard in its stead. Standoffs between law enforcement and cartels who are taking territory within Mexico have become notably more lenient. An example of leniency under the new policy was when EL Chapo’s son, Ovidio Guzman, was arrested and then released by Obrador when the cartel showed force in protest of his arrest. Even though the approach intends to tackle corruption, some instances, such as the pardon of General Salvador Cienfuegos, run counter to this goal. The DEA arrested Salvador while he was in the U.S. for assisting the cartel in smuggling cocaine into the country. The Mexican government demanded the return of the General, and America complied to be diplomatic. Once Salvador returned to Mexico, officials threw out the case based on a lack of evidence. Shortly after this event, a new legislature passed to suppress foreign agency investigations within Mexico. Obrador’s term ends this year. Mexico’s 2024 presidential election is on June 2, with the two main candidates being women, a first in Mexico’s history. They are Claudia Sheinbaum and Xochicl Galvez. Sheinbaum is the appointed successor of Obrador and intends to prolong the policy strategies brought in by her predecessor. She is a candidate uniformly accepted by the majority of the MORENA party. Xochicl Galvez is the opposition candidate who seeks to revamp the current cartel strategy. She is a candidate with business experience and indigenous Mexican roots.

  • Gun Industry Drama: Ghost Guns and NRA Corruption

    The Gun Industry has been a headline focus in recent news. The NRA faced a corruption lawsuit in New York regarding the misappropriation of funding dollars by executives within the NRA. Additionally, there have been developments in lawsuits filed by major metropolitan areas such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York against “ghost gun” manufacturers. ‘Ghost Guns’ are guns created by manufacturers via building kits that provide essential parts for assembly. The most controversial part about these kits is that the provided parts don’t have serial numbers, so they’re untraceable and do not require a permit or registration to purchase. The corruption suit against the NRA was filed by NY Attorney General Letitia James back in August 2020. The suit accused four named defendants, the NRA’s past advertising agency (Ackerman McQueen), and the NRA’s internal audit committee of corruption by misusing the non-profit’s funds for personal benefit. The NRA suit accused former CEO Wayne LaPierre (among others) of spending millions of funding dollars on vacations, luxury transport, and expense reimbursements. LaPierre also awarded himself an unauthorized post-employment contract totaling $17 million upon his leave from the NRA. LaPierre stepped down from his position due to the corruption suit, ending his long-standing role at the NRA, which started in 1991. The court came to a verdict on February 23 and found LaPierre and the former CFO, Wilson Phillips, liable for financial misconduct and corruption. LaPierre has been told to pay back a total of $5.4 million to the NRA and has reportedly already paid back a little over $1 million, leaving $4.35 million outstanding. Phillips is required to pay back $2 million for his part in the mismanagement of non-profit funds. Separately, Josh Powell, the former Executive of General Operations, settled out of court before the proceedings and paid just $100 thousand. The recent crackdown on “ghost guns” is an initiative the Biden administration has been prioritizing due to the spike in police recovering these types of guns at crime scenes. In 2017, the number of ghost guns submitted to the ATF for tracing was 1,629. In 2021, that number increased by 11.8x to 19,273. Currently, the administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a prior decision that interfered with the overall federal ban on selling “ghost guns.” Attorney General James in NY has continued to pursue the case filed in 2022 against nine ghost gun manufacturers, which have attempted to appeal the case to no avail. Philadelphia and Baltimore have filed similar suits against ghost gun manufacturers. Specifically, manufacturers Polymer80 and JSD Supply were the biggest suppliers of these kits. In Baltimore, their case has led to Polymer80 halting sales in Maryland and paying a settlement of $1.2 million.

  • Biden Administration Pauses Pending Approvals on Natural Gas Facilities

    On January 26, 2024, the Biden administration announced “a temporary pause on pending decisions on exports of ‘Liquified Natural Gas’ (LNG) to non-FTA (Free Trade Agreement) countries until the Department of Energy can update the underlying analyses for authorizations… “ The administration pointed to oversight guidelines from the Department of Energy (established five years ago) as outdated. This pause would allow time to reevaluate the oversight to better align with modern conditions, like energy cost increases and safety concerns surrounding greenhouse gas emissions these new projects would produce. The U.S. became the largest global LNG exporter in 2023, making the pause a difficult decision. Even though previously approved projects will continue operating, if the pause is prolonged it may affect the U.S. position in the global market as competitors like Qatar look to expand operations to stay competitive. Europe has become dependent on U.S. LNG since being cut off from Russia’s supply in 2022. The already approved operating facilities will continue to supply Europe and other nations with their LNG needs. There are already projects that have been approved that are still being built. When completed, the expansions would nearly double the sizes of LNG projects along the Gulf Coast. The scale of this calls into question how dire the prolonged pause on pending expansions would be. The pause was driven by grassroots initiatives that have acquired financial backing from people such as the Rockefellers, Michael Bloomberg, and Jeff Bezos. These community leaders and organizations along the Gulf Coast are against the constant expansion of facilities across coastal lands. Some worry about the impacts on air quality, tourism, and natural resources like fish, shrimp, wetlands, and endangered species. Activists argue that the benefits to their local economies would not be worth the natural ramifications these facilities would bring. Since the announcement from the Biden administration, republican disapproval developed in Washington. August Pfluger, a representative from Texas, then introduced a bill on 2/1 in the House of Representatives. Within the bill, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (an independent oversight organization within the DOE that monitors the interstate transmission of natural gasses) would have the exclusive authority to approve or deny an application for siting, construction, expansion, or operation of a facility that exports and imports natural gases to and from foreign countries. On 2/15, the bill passed in the House of Representatives as the House has a Republican majority. It’s likely to be stopped in the Senate, which has a Democrat majority.

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