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FERC Proposes Mandatory Pre-Filing Procedures for LNG Projects

FERC last Monday proposed a rule to require potential developers of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals and associated facilities to initiate pre-filing procedures at least six months before filing a formal application with the agency. The proposed rule also would apply to companies seeking to expand their existing LNG facilities, if FERC's director of Office of Energy Projects deems it necessary.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the proposed rule in response to the newly enacted Energy Policy Act of 2005, which requires the agency to issue within 60 days of enactment of the bill regulations implementing a mandatory pre-filing process for LNG facility authorizations. FERC said it plans to come out with a final rule by Oct. 7.

The Commission has used National Environmenal Policy Act (NEPA) pre-filing procedures for several years as a voluntary option with all potential applicants, including developers of pipeline, storage and LNG terminal projects, in an effort to detect problems with projects in advance of companies filing their formal applications with the agency. Many of the projects filed in recent years have used the pre-filing process because the advance research can identify problems and speed the formal application process.

FERC's proposed rule would establish mandatory pre-filing procedures for all applicants seeking to site, construct and operate new LNG terminals and related facilities, such as pipelines, that would transport the revaporized LNG to markets, as well as applicants seeking to expand existing LNG facilities in certain circumstances, the agency said [RM05-31].

The proposed rule calls for LNG project applicants to submit conceptual design and engineering features of their proposed projects, as well as extensive information about potential environmental, security and safety impacts. The rule also requires a formal application to be filed at least 180 days after the date the Commission's director of Office of Energy Projects issues notice of the commencement of the prospective applicant's pre-filing process.

The proposed rule does not impose mandatory pre-filing procedures for new or expanded natural gas facilities that do not involve LNG.

Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted to FERC by Sept. 14. They can be filed electronically at http://www.ferc.gov, or sent via mail to FERC.; Office of the Secretary; Washington, DC 20426.

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