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DOE Should Just Approve All LNG Exports, Trade Group Says

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) should give blanket liquefied natural gas (LNG) export approval to anyone who wants it and let projects queue up at FERC for their environmental reviews, America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) CEO Marty Durbin said Thursday.

Applications to export LNG to free trade agreement (FTA) countries have always been presumed to be in the public interest and are routinely approved. Non-FTA export applications currently require a review at DOE that ANGA maintains is unnecessary. All exports -- FTA and non-FTA -- should be deemed to be in the public interest, Durbin told reporters during a conference call to introduce the group's latest pro-export whitepaper, "Carpe Diem, LNG Exports Are America's Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity."

DOE should "...move forward as quickly as possible to approve all terminals now in its queue, and we ask Congress to enact legislation that enjoys strong bipartisan support to help expedite and provide certainty to the permitting process," the whitepaper says.

During comments to reporters, Durbin discussed the status of Cove Point LNG (see Daily GPI, Dec. 30, 2014). The project is in the rehearing process at FERC, he said, and DOE is waiting until that is completed before granting non-FTA export authorization. DOE should just go ahead and grant the non-FTA authorization, he said.

"...[R]ehearing requests against the Commission's authorization of Cove Point remain pending, nearly five months after the Nov. 13, 2014 tolling order," analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC said in an April 7 note. "The DOE has yet to finalize Cove Point's non-FTA export authorization, and we do not expect finalization until the FERC addresses the rehearing requests."

Rigs drilling for natural gas might have fallen like dominoes in response to depressed commodity prices, but the United States still has more than enough natural gas to liquefy and export, which would help clean the air worldwide and drive economic growth at home, ANGA said. Exports won't hurt domestic manufacturing or petrochemical production, ANGA said, as it has before.

"The latest estimates confirm, again, that our natural gas supply is sustainable, reliable and large enough to last more than a century," Durbin said. "This means the U.S. can be a global energy leader without sacrificing our domestic advantage.  But we must accelerate approval of export facilities in order to secure that role and maximize the benefits both here at home and globally."

Despite a collapse in global oil prices that has made LNG from the united states less competitive in world markets, Durbin said there still is an urgent need to get projects approved quickly and eliminate regulatory uncertainty.

"Part of the reason for that is oil prices, regardless of where they are today...it doesn't remove the opportunity or the need for the United states to much more clearly secure a role as an energy leader globally," Durbin said. "The debate over crude oil exports kind of folds into this as well...I don't think that current prices are having a major impact on that long-term opportunity we have."

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