Less than three weeks after FERC staff determined that Dominion's proposal to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from a facility in Maryland posed no major threat to the environment -- and two days before a powerful member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources urged regulators to issue Dominion an export license -- the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has asked the Commission for a 30-day extension to complete its review of the Cove Point Liquefaction project.
"EPA requests that this additional time be granted due to the nature and complexity of this project," the agency said in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) dated June 3 and released on FERC's website Monday. "The additional time will allow the agency to compile comments from its regional associate internal reviewers (our standard practices) and the required need for EPA headquarters' review."
Dominion Cove Point LNG LP has proposed exporting 5.75 million metric tons per annum of LNG from a liquefaction facility on the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County, MD, using marine carriers that would dock at an existing offshore pier. FERC issued an environmental assessment for the project last month. The 30-day public comment period on the plan is scheduled to end June 16 (see Daily GPI, May 15; March 3).
DOE issued Dominion a conditional license for LNG exports, to countries without a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, in September 2013 (see Daily GPI, Sept. 12, 2013). The license gave Dominion Cove Point permission to export up to 0.77 Bcf/d for 20 years. Dominion recently received regulatory approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission for its proposal to export LNG from its facilities on Chesapeake Bay, in Calvert County, MD.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) last week called on regulators to grant Dominion an export license for the proposed facility (see Daily GPI, June 5). In a letter to Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur, Murkowski pointed out that the last remaining regulatory hurdles for the Cove Point Liquefaction Project [CP13-113] are approvals from FERC and the Department of Energy (DOE).
In January, Murkowski issued a white paper accusing DOE of "slow-walking" licenses to export LNG (see Daily GPI, Jan. 7). Last month, DOE said it would modify its LNG export review process, effectively taking a backseat to FERC and redirecting the spotlight to a smaller volume of exports that have final, multi-agency authorization (see Daily GPI, May 29).
DOE has approved seven requests -- filed by six companies -- to export domestically produced LNG to non-FTA countries. Collectively, those DOE authorizations would allow the export of 9.27 Bcf/d. To date, only Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass project has received final approval from DOE and FERC to export LNG to non-FTA countries.
Dominion estimates construction of the export project will cost between $3.4 billion and $3.8 billion, and will generate an additional $40 million in annual tax revenue to Calvert County.
Companies with import capacity at Cove Point include Atlanta Gas Light, BP, Public Service Company of North Carolina, Sempra Energy Trading, Shell, Statoil, Virginia Natural Gas, Virginia Power Services, and Washington Gas Light.