The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee has passed legislation that would accelerate the approval of requests to sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) overseas. The bill would require the Department of Energy to make a decision on an LNG export application within 90 days after the close of the public comment period. DOE currently has no time limit on its decisions.
“The bill would ensure that “90 days after the closing of the comment period, they have to make a decision. It could be yes or no, but they have to make a decision,” said Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), who helped broker the compromise bill that passed.
The original bill, proposed by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), would have automatically green-lit LNG exports to all members of the World Trade Organization. With 159 WTO member countries, that would have amounted to a near full liberalization of LNG exports.
The approved bill gives the DOE 90 days to decide whether an LNG export application is in “the national interest.”
The compromise was made in order to gain the support of more Democrats. In the end, the 33-18 vote was mostly along party lines, with five Democrats in favor.
The LNG export debate has a long history on Capitol Hill. Advocates of a more liberal export policy gained traction after Russia’s March annexation of Crimea, which has created uncertainty in the European energy supply chain.
The LNG bill will likely be taken up by the full House later this month. While passage there is likely, the Democratic-controlled Senate isn’t expected to act on it.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com