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House Passes LNG Permitting Bill; Senate Committee to Discuss Thursday

A bill that would require the Department of Energy (DOE) to make decisions on applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) within 30 days, without specifying details for federal officials to follow, passed in a bipartisan landslide in House on Wednesday and has moved to the Senate.

HR 351, also known as the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act, passed by a 277-133 vote. Forty-one Democrats joined 236 Republicans in supporting the measure. All but one of the votes against the bill were cast by Democrats; the other came from New York GOP Rep. Chris Gibson.

The bill calls for DOE to issue a final decision within 30 days for any application to build, expand or operate LNG export facilities that also require authorization from either the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the U.S. Marine Administration (see Daily GPI, Jan. 27). DOE would need to make the decision after the conclusion of any review required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

HR 351 also directs the DOE secretary to require LNG export applicants "to publicly disclose the specific destination or destinations of any such authorized LNG exports."

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), the bill's sponsor, said the measure would create thousands of jobs.

"Some estimates suggest that the construction associated with LNG export terminals would support the creation of 45,000 jobs," Johnson said Wednesday. "Additionally, this bill would further spur our manufacturing industry’s comeback...Estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created because of increased natural gas production and development.

"I'm honored to have been part of the team to usher this bipartisan legislation through the House of Representatives, and I'm hopeful that it will clear the Senate and be placed on President Obama's desk for his signature."

Sens. John Barrasso (R-WV) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced a companion bill, S 33, earlier this month (see Daily GPIJan. 7). That bill would require the DOE secretary to make a decision on any LNG export application within 45 days after an environmental review document for the project is published.

According to Barrasso, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on S 33 at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. DOE Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Christopher Smith and other witnesses are scheduled to testify.

"The House vote...brings us one step closer to making timely LNG exports a reality," Barrasso said. "Study after study has shown that LNG exports will create good-paying jobs across America, help reduce our nation's trade deficit, and increase the energy security of key U.S. allies and partners."

America's Natural Gas Alliance spokesman Frank Macchiarola applauded the the House’s  “bipartisan passage of legislation to streamline the federal process for approving terminals that allow for the export of LNG. Given the abundance of domestic natural gas, expanding our export opportunities will create jobs, strengthen our economy and enhance national and energy security."

Bill Cooper, president of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG), said the bill's passage "sends a strong signal that the United States is committed to its role as an energy leader. Increasing exports of U.S. LNG will allow us to realize significant economic benefits resulting from tens of billions of dollars of new investment and the creation of tens of thousands of direct jobs, while also supplying our friends and allies with a reliable and affordable source of fuel."

Like HR 351, S 33 would require LNG exporters to disclose the countries where gas is exported. The information would be compiled by the DOE and made available to the public.

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