A recent hearing of the Energy and Power Subcommittee discussed the regulatory, market and legal barriers to exporting Coal and LNG. Critical issues were the length of time associated with the permitting process as well as the economic and climate impacts associated with the exports.
Christopher Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at the DOE, testified that most of the foundation has been built and that future approvals should be expedited. Jeff Wright, Director, Office of Energy Projects at FERC, stated that many of the delays experienced were the result of filers submitting incomplete applications. Jennifer Moyer, Acting Chief, Regulatory Program at the USACE, detailed that the impact of exports on climate change are beyond the scope of their work, to the chagrin of several of the committee members.
Some of the Members pointed to export facilities as a way for the U.S. to boost economic growth through construction, maintenance and increased trade, improve U.S. energy security and balance our trade deficit. Others questioned the panel regarding the potential for U.S. Energy exports to raise domestic energy prices. Mr. Smith referenced two recent DOE commissioned reports that found a net economic benefit to LNG exports to address these questions. Climate change was the most controversial element of the proceedings, with several Representatives suggesting that building infrastructure associated with the terminals would “lock in” the fossil fuels they export for decades. Congresswoman Castor of Florida asked Ms. Moyer that if the USACE wouldn’t consider climate change in their review process, then who should?
What changes, if any, should be made to the LNG/Coal Export terminal licensing process? Should climate change be considered in this process and if so, by whom?