Senate panel to vote on natural gas exports

A Senate committee will vote this week on a bill that would speed the federal government’s approval of applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenDem lawmaker 'confident' bipartisan group will strike deal on border funding Congress in painful start to avoid second shutdown Republicans want Trump to keep out of border talks MORE (R-N.D.), would set a limit on the time the Energy Department could take to consider whether a proposed export project is in the country’s interest.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider the proposal Thursday along with 18 other minor bills on subjects like national park boundaries, wilderness areas and land swaps.


Senators, led mostly by Republicans, have called since early last year for the government to make it easier to export LNG. The Energy Department must make the public interest determination for every application to ship LNG to countries without American free-trade agreements.

The debate picked up steam early this year as a way to retaliate against Russia for its aggression toward neighbors like Ukraine while helping U.S. allies in Eastern Europe with another option for natural gas.

Hoeven introduced his bill in July as a compromise between lawmakers who wanted to mandate that all export applications be approved immediately and those who wanted the Obama administration to be allowed more time to consider them.

His legislation would give Energy 45 days to consider export proposals after they are filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which also must approve them.

There are no existing facilities in the contiguous United States that can export LNG beyond Canada or Mexico. Three proposed terminals have all the necessary federal approvals to move forward.

The House passed a bill in June to set the deadline at 30 days.