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Murkowski Report Calls for Streamlined LNG Export Approval Process

The Department of Energy (DOE) should move forward on all liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications "in a timely manner," development of natural gas resources should be a priority for the United States, and lawmakers should help clear the way by opposing any polices that would delay or prohibit LNG exports, according to a report issued Tuesday by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

"We need to shift from a mindset of scarcity, which has been dominant in the debate during most of my adult life, to one of abundance," Murkowski said in the 17-page report. "If the best projections prove accurate, we will soon be a net exporter of natural gas."

The report, "The Narrowing Window: America's Opportunity to Join the Global Gas Trade," was presented as a white paper to "Energy 20/20: A Vision for America's Energy Future," a report unveiled by Murkowski earlier this year (seeDaily GPIFeb. 5). The new report echoed many of the themes laid out in Murkowski's earlier vision, which argued that the nation's energy discourse is "just not keeping up" with recent changes in the energy industry.

In the latest report, Murkowski calls on DOE to avoid "artificial timetables, such as an arbitrary gap of six to eight weeks between decisions," when evaluating LNG export applications, and to consider revisions to its application review procedures only if they will expedite the process. Any legislation requiring additional economic studies, more restrictive rulemaking at DOE or any other policy that serves to delay or prohibit LNG exports should be opposed, she said, and the United States should make development of natural gas resources a priority.

"Funding for research and development of unconventional gas resources, including methane hydrates, should be maintained or increase," Congress should reject efforts to streamline the permitting process and oppose attempts to increase taxes "that make natural gas less viable to produce, and oppose efforts to make the regulatory process uncertain, inefficient, overly burdensome, or duplicative."

Ironically, within hours of the release of Murkowski's white paper, DOE conditionally authorized Lake Charles Exports LLC to export domestically produced LNG to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the United States (see related story). It was the third such authorization granted by DOE.

 In the earlier report, Murkowski recommendations included construction of the Keystone Pipeline and an expedited process for Lower 48 LNG exports to U.S. allies "that face emergency or chronic shortages but with whom we do not have free trade agreements."

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