DOE rejects Sierra Club rehearing request on Freeport LNG exports

The U.S. Department of Energy on Dec. 4 denied a Sierra Club request for rehearing on an approval for LNG export.

Freeport LNG Expansion LP, FLNG Liquefaction LLC, FLNG Liquefaction 2 LLC and FLNG Liquefaction 3 LLC (collectively called “FLEX”) filed two applications, a year apart, with the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (DOE/FE) seeking authorization to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries with which the United States does not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that requires national treatment for trade in natural gas (non-FTA countries).

In each application FLEX requested authorization to export LNG in a volume equivalent to 1.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas, for a total of 2.8 Bcf/d, from the same liquefaction facility. In November 2014, the department issued final orders in both dockets.

  • In one order, the department granted FLEX’s first application in the full volume requested: 1.4 Bcf/d.
  • In another order, the department granted FLEX’s second application, but only at a volume of 0.4 Bcf/d.

The department did not authorize the full volume because the additive volume requested in the two applications would have exceeded the known liquefaction capacity of the planned Liquefaction Project being examined in the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), which was 1.8 Bcf/d. Therefore, to ensure that the total volume authorized across both orders did not exceed 1.8 Bcf/d, the department authorized 0.4 Bcf/d of the 1.4 Bcf/d that had been requested in FLEX’s second application.

The Sierra Club was the sole party to seek rehearing of the department’s order that granted FLEX 0.4 Bcf/d of export authority to non-FTA countries. No party sought rehearing of the order in which the department acted on FLEX’s first application. (Sierra Club did not intervene in that proceeding and so could not have sought rehearing). Therefore, the rehearing request being considered in this Dec. 4 order concerns only 0.4 Bcf/d of the 1.8 Bcf/d of exports to non-FTA countries that DOE/FE has authorized FLEX to make.

DOE/FE conditionally authorized FLEX to export LNG in a volume equivalent to 146 billion cubic feet per year (Bcf/yr) of natural gas (0.4 Bcf/d) for a term of 20 years. The proposed exports will originate from the existing Freeport Terminal, located on Quintana Island, southeast of the City of Freeport in Brazoria County, Texas, from liquefaction and related facilities to be constructed by FLEX (Liquefaction Project).

DOE/FE in the Dec 4 order denied the Sierra Club’s request for rehearing, and affirmed the findings and conclusions in the FLEX II Conditional Order and the FLEX II Order and the record of decision for FLEX’s application.

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.