Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota is holding back his legislation to fast-track the Energy Department’s reviews of LNG exports for now, reports E&E News. Hoeven said he made this decision after talking to Department of Energy (DOE) head Ernest Moniz in order to garner more support for the bill before it goes to the Senate.
The bill would speed up the regulatory process for companies seeking to export LNG to countries that do not have a free-trade agreement with the U.S. Currently, the Energy Department is obligated to determine whether proposed LNG exports to these countries are in the national interest of the U.S. in order to be approved, according to The Hill. This process can only begin after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) completes an environmental impact statement on the proposed exports.
Hoeven’s bill would require the DOE to make a decision within 45 days of a company’s completing the pre-filing process at FERC, which the senator said can take up to six months. Such a bill would provide the industry with a “rational” path forward by ensuring that the DOE would move forward on a firm timeline, according to Hoeven.
The North Dakota senator decided to delay the bill in hopes that he might be able to get the support of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “If I can work something out with [Energy Secretary Moniz], he’ll endorse the bill. But it still has to be acceptable to the industry, so I’m negotiating with the secretary and industry. If I get them both, then I think we’ll pass it in the Congress, no problem.”
Hoeven also acknowledged that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is unlikely to take up the bill during the lame-duck session. Waiting until next year would give Hoeven a big boost in Republican Senate support as the GOP takes control after the mid-term elections.
Hoeven’s Bill Joins Others in the Wings
Several other LNG export measures are seeking support on Capitol Hill. Rep. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.) LNG export bill, that set a 30-day deadline for DOE to issue its national interest decision once FERC signs off on the export license, passed in the House earlier this year. Outgoing Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) had proposed a bill in the Senate with similar time deadlines for the DOE, but lost his seat in the Senate to Gardner. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is slated to take the Senate ENR Committee’s helm next Congress, said “I think we’re going to have good discussion about how we move our very valuable supplies of not only natural gas, but hopefully oil.”
With energy being a primary focus for the Republican Party taking control of the Senate next year, discussions about the best way to handle the abundant resources in the U.S. are on everyone’s agenda. Even though Hoeven’s bill has been delayed for the time being, it does not appear that it will take long before his, or another, bill passes, streamlining LNG exports.
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