LNG Terminal Permitting Measure Passes House

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By The Maritime Executive 05-19-2016 08:51:44

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act, and among its numerous provisions is a new measure intended to streamline Department of Energy permitting processes for new LNG export terminals. 

The American Petroleum Institute hailed the measure as an important step for industry. 

“U.S. LNG exports will create American jobs, significantly strengthen the global energy marketplace, and bolster our strategic alliances,” said API Executive Vice President Louis Finkel. “Today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives to approve LNG exports provisions as part of the defense authorization bill further cements the critical role U.S. energy plays at home and abroad."

Finkel tied the measure to national security, a way to "help our allies break dependence on nations that use their energy resources as a political weapon." He did not identify a specific nation, but the amendment's sponsor, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma) pointed to Russia, which is no longer Lithuania’s only supplier of natural gas thanks to LNG imports, he said. "Let's help repeat that story. LNG exports are a win-win for our allies, a win for our partners and a win for the American economy," said Bridenstine. 

The amendment sets a decision deadline for Department of Energy reviews and approvals for LNG project proposals which also require review “from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the United States Maritime Administration." DOE would have 30 days for review of a completed environmental impact statement and 30 additional days to issue a decision, limiting the amount of time a project would wait for the agency’s approval.

The House version of the NDAA as a whole must still be reconciled with the Senate's, and there are significant differences between the two. Once reconciled, it will go to the president's desk. President Obama's staff have indicated that he would veto the House version in its current form; the bill contains language to move $20 billion in funds for overseas deployments into the military’s base-level funding for more personnel and equipment, and the White House has expressed strong opposition to the change.