On May 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) issued a notice of proposed procedures to change its process of reviewing applications – and making final public interest determinations – on liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) export applications to nations without a Free Trade Agreement (“non-FTA”). Currently, DOE approves an LNG export application to non-FTA nations conditioned upon the applicant’s commitments to complete the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) review process. Under the proposed new review procedures, DOE will only review applications and make final public interest determinations upon completion of the NEPA process.
DOE stated in its notice that by focusing on applications where the project has already completed the NEPA process, it could prioritize resources on more commercially advanced projects, streamline the regulatory process, and improve the quality of information on which DOE makes its public interest determinations. DOE also explained that applications that have completed NEPA review would no longer be delayed by their position in the current order of precedence, but will be reviewed in the order in which they are ready for final DOE action.
Separately, DOE announced that it plans to update its 2012 LNG Export Study by undertaking a new economic study to better understand how potential LNG exports between 12 and 20 billion cubic feet per day affect the public interest.
Comments on the proposed procedures are due July 21, 2014. A copy of DOE’s notice is available here.