Gulf Coast ports get boost in LNG export license review
The Obama administration on Thursday proposed dramatically changing the way it is reviewing applications to widely export natural gas, with a plan that effectively moves more commercially advanced projects to the front of the line.It is still taking too long to get these approvals. They should waive the public comment period for this or shorten it to a week and just get on with it. This administration has a tendency to study things to death. It is their passive aggressive way of killing and delaying projects while driving up the costs of those that do get approved.
The newly proposed procedure, announced by Assistant Energy Secretary Christopher Smith in a blog post, would replace a two-year-old process that has been widely criticized. Energy companies and their allies on Capitol Hill have complained the existing procedure is akin to a “deli counter” approach that rewards export projects for getting in line quickly at the expense of facilities more likely to break ground.
Many of the projects that would be advantaged by the new approach have already received conditional export approvals, but the biggest winners are those that have cleared a separate Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review or are in the midst of it, including Cheniere Energy’s plans for a facility in Corpus Christi, Texas; Exxon Mobil’s Golden Pass project in Sabine Pass, Texas; and Cheniere’s proposal to add more capacity to its Louisiana project now under construction.
The Energy Department will continue reviewing Oregon LNG’s application for an export license under its current procedure.
Related story: Companies face hurdles to export natural gas
It will take the Energy Department at least two months to finalize the change, which is now subject to a 45-day public comment period.
The proposal focuses on applications to export natural gas to countries that aren’t free-trade partners with the United States. Under federal law, the Energy Department is responsible for deciding whether those plans are in the public interest. Meanwhile, separate agencies, such as the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission and the Maritime Administration, are tasked with examining the planned physical projects.
Under the new approach, the Energy Department would only begin reviewing export proposals after they have cleared environmental reviews conducted as part of the FERC and the Maritime Administration examination of those plans. Previously, regulators had been working their way through a priority list based largely on when the applications were first submitted to the Energy Department — no matter where they were in the FERC review process.