House passes bill to speed up DOE review of liquefied natural gas projects

The U.S. House of Representatives on jan. 28 approved H.R 351, the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act, which would help expedite the approval of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects.

The legislation was approved by a vote of 277 to 133, which means some Democrats crossed the aisle to support it. H.R. 351, authored by Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, would end delays blocking the export of LNG by requiring the U.S. Department of Energy to issue a decision on export applications following the conclusion of environmental review of the LNG facilities.

“Increasing U.S. LNG exports would help create jobs in America and help our allies abroad,” said a Jan. 28 statement from the Energy and Commerce Committee’s GOP majority. “At the request of the Department of Energy, NERA economic consulting conducted a study and found that U.S. LNG exports would result in net gains to our domestic economy and could reduce the average number of unemployed workers by as much as 45,000 by 2018. The Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance projects that expanding the market for U.S. LNG would create an additional 150,000 jobs in the supply chain. U.S. LNG exports would also provide our allies in Europe and across the globe with an alternative safe and secure source of energy, reducing the coercive power of exporters like Russia.”

“For too long the Department of Energy has stood in the way of progress when it comes to approving our natural gas export permits. Today, the House voted to eliminate the government red tape that has stood in the way of American job creation in both the energy and manufacturing sectors, and we’ve sent a strong message to our allies in Europe – they won’t have to be so beholden to Vladimir Putin to meet their energy needs anymore,” said Johnson.

“The domestic and geopolitical benefits make increasing U.S. LNG exports a win-win, but the Department of Energy continues to hold up the process. This bill would help jumpstart approvals so we can start creating jobs and sending our surplus gas to those countries that need it the most,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a Jan. 29 hearing on the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act (S. 33). Committee chair Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said about the bill: “Know from the start that I fully support this bill. It is truly the culmination of years of legislative work here in the Congress. I remember Sen. Richard Lugar, who introduced in December 2012 the concept that exports for NATO members should receive expedited treatment over at the Department of Energy. As proposals came forth, more and more countries were added to this prospective list – Ukraine, Japan, India, and eventually the entire World Trade Organization. Just yesterday we voted on Sen. [Ted] Cruz’s WTO amendment as part of the ongoing Keystone XL debate.

“Last year, legislative activity turned to the approval process over at DOE. We saw proposals to give the department a time limit for authorizations – these licenses – a with the clock starting at various points – after FERC final authorization, after pre-filing, and so forth. Many colleagues co-sponsoring this current legislation were involved in those efforts, as was our former ENR colleague, Sen. Mark Udall.

“I think we would all recognize that this legislation in front of is, S. 33, is a compromise. It is imperfect, but it is the result of serious work by very serious people coming together to try to address an issue. I thank my colleagues for all their efforts to come together on this one.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.