Chron: Senate bill to speed up LNG applications

Senate Republicans introduced legislation Friday aiming to speed up federal reviews of LNG terminals and other energy infrastructure. 

The legislation introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Bill Cassidy, R-Louis., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., comes amidst increasing consternation from companies developing liquefied natural gas export terminals and pipelines that application reviews by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are taking too long.

"We are well-positioned to help other nations diversify their energy supplies and achieve a greater level of energy security," said Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. "Yet, that will only become a reality if we can resolve the application backlog at FERC and allow infrastructure projects to move forward."

After a delay on FERC's approval of the Calcasieu Pass LNG facility in Louisiana, the project's developer, Venture Global LNG, sent a letter to commissioners in January warning unexpected delays in approval could turn away investors.

"Financial markets are acutely aware of, and dependent upon, the transparency, reliability, and predictability of the commission's regulatory process and time frame," wrote co-CEOS Robert Pender and Michael Sabel.

That same month the CEO of San Antonio-based EPIC Pipeline filed a similar complaint with FERC complaining its 550,000 barrel a day pipeline in the Permian Basin, along with 14 other pipeline projects, was being held up by FERC's delay in issuing routine orders.

FERC eventually approved Calcasieu Pass last week, after commissioners settled a dispute over the facility's greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the Senate legislation, FERC's recruitment process would be adjusted to speed up the hiring of the engineers, scientists, and mathematicians tasked with reviewing applications.

At present FERC has 13 pending applications for LNG terminals, the majority of which are in Texas and Louisiana, according to the senators.

"FERC needs the expertise and manpower to speed up the review process and end long wait times for new natural gas terminals," Cassidy said.

In the House, Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., are planning to introduce similar legislation.

By:  James Osborne
Source: Chron