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Bill to Expedite LNG Exports Introduced in GOP-led Senate

As the national media focused on the political storm brewing over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, another bill -- to expedite exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) -- was introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate, now controlled by the GOP.

The bill, the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act, was introduced by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) on Tuesday. It calls for the federal government to speed up the approval process for LNG exports to countries that do not have U.S. free trade agreements (FTA).

U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) are co-sponsors.

"LNG exports will create jobs across the country, reduce our nation's trade deficit, and strengthen the energy security of key U.S. allies who are eager to buy America's natural gas," Barrasso stated. "Right now, LNG exports are being stalled by Washington red tape and permitting delays. Our bipartisan bill fixes this by creating clear deadlines that force Washington to make timely decisions on these critical energy permits."

Heinrich concurred. "If the U.S. does not aggressively market LNG abroad, many of these countries may have no choice but to purchase energy from Russia or other nations that are not aligned with our own national interests," he said.

Under the bill, the secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) would be required to issue a final decision on an LNG export application to non-FTA countries within 45 days of the time FERC or the U.S. Maritime Administration publishes the related environmental review. The bill also stipulates that if the DOE secretary fails to act with 45 days, or if a legal challenge is raised over a project, the permit applicant is allowed an expedited judicial review.

Last May, the DOE said it would modify the way it reviews LNG export licenses, deferring instead to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (see Daily GPIMay 29, 2014).

The Barrasso-Heinrich bill would require LNG exporters to disclose what countries to which gas is exported. That information would be compiled by DOE and made available to the public.

FERC in late December approved an LNG export plan by Corpus Christi Liquefaction LLC (see Daily GPIDec. 31, 2014). FERC has now approved LNG infrastructure with combined export capacity of nearly 9 Bcf/d.

Last July, Hoeven introduced a similar bill to speed up LNG exports in the Senate. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources was to discuss the bill last November (see Daily GPINov. 10, 2014).

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