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Southeast Lawmakers Urge Quick Approval of LNG Projects

A group of state legislators from the Southeast adopted a proposal last week that calls for expeditious consideration by state and the federal regulators of applications to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals.

The position paper was voted on by the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), which represents 16 states from Texas to West Virginia, during the group's annual meeting in Mobile, AL.

The SLC urged "all state and federal regulators to expeditiously consider, approve and permit applications for LNG receiving terminals throughout the country, taking into consideration the potential environmental impacts associated with certain types of open-loop revaporization systems and balancing the potential impacts of these systems against the need for new supplies of natural gas in a manner that is efficient and environmentally responsible."

The SLC said it plans to forward copies of its policy position to all appropriate federal regulators, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and to all members of the SLC's congressional delegation.

The state legislators in the Southeast noted that high natural gas prices have been "extremely detrimental" to industries based in the South, particularly to the chemical sector, and have led to the exportation of jobs to foreign countries. Analysts believe that LNG has the "potential to reduce and stabilize natural gas prices," they said.

As for potential concerns associated with LNG facilities, the state legislators said that two of the original LNG receiving terminals in the U.S. are located in the South and have "successfully operated without safety or environmental incidents" -- El Paso Corp.'s Elba Island in Georgia and Trunkline LNG's terminal near Lake Charles, LA.

Despite the incident-free safety record, some new LNG projects in the Southeast have encountered intense local opposition. In October 2004, ExxonMobil was forced to scrap its plans to build an LNG facility in Mobile Bay, AL due to local pressure (see NGI, Nov. 1, 2004).

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