Udall bill sets new limit on DOE’s natural gas export process

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced legislation Thursday that would set a new 45-day limit on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) consideration of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications — half the time of his previous proposal.

Udall said his new bill would further expedite the application process while taking into account changes to the process already proposed by the department.

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Udall is facing a difficult reelection fight against Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). Gardner’s bill for a 90-day window passed out of committee in April.

Udall revised his first bill on gas exports to mirror the version of Gardner's that moved out of committee.

“By speeding up the U.S. Department of Energy’s review of pending liquefied natural gas export facilities, my bill would cut red tape and complement the agency's newly announced review process,” Udall said. “My legislation also provides the Department of Energy with a common-sense amount of time to consider the environmental and national security implications of each application without unnecessarily delaying the process.”

The DOE must approve all applications to export LNG to countries with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement. The agency proposed in May to conduct that review only after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) completes its review of the project, a move the DOE said would streamline the process and better focus its efforts.

Udall’s legislation would require the department to finish its review of export projects within 45 days after FERC completes its environmental review. It would also provide for expedited court review if the DOE does not complete its process in the mandated timeline and require the DOE to publicly report the countries to which it has allowed LNG exports.

Udall’s bill, as well as other calls for major changes to the LNG export process, have come as policymakers have increasingly called in recent months for the United States to increase LNG exports.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) co-sponsored Udall’s latest legislation. Landrieu is also facing reelection in an energy-heavy state.

The bill was unveiled the same day Landrieu’s committee will hold a hearing on natural gas exports.