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Energy Department clears ‘small-scale’ natural gas exports for fast approval

Energy Department clears ‘small-scale’ natural gas exports for fast approval
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The Trump administration is expediting the approval process for projects that are meant to export small amounts of natural gas, including liquefied natural gas.

In a final regulation released to the public Tuesday, the Department of Energy (DOE) said it will automatically approve gas export applications if they are at or below 51.75 billion cubic feet of exports per year and do not rise to the level of requiring an environmental review.

“DOE has determined that small-scale natural gas exports are consistent with the public interest,” the agency said in its regulation, citing the Natural Gas Act’s requirement that exports can only be approved if they are in the United States’ public interest.

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“In sum, DOE has thoroughly analyzed the many factors affecting the export of U.S. natural gas, as well as the unique characteristics and minimal adverse impacts of the emerging small scale natural gas market,” the department said, concluding that the public interest standard has been met.

The regulation is due to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, starting a 30-day clock before it takes effect.

DOE has previously approved more than two dozen projects to export liquefied natural gas, but only two are currently in operation. Interest in gas exports rose in recent years as domestic production grew significantly, owing to hydraulic fracturing and other advanced drilling techniques.

Gas exports also align with the Trump administration's drive for "energy dominance," a paradigm that centers largely on selling U.S. energy around the world.

The small-scale export market is mainly limited to the Western Hemisphere, including the Caribbean, South America and Central America.

“DOE believes that facilitating small-scale natural gas exports will allow for greater diversity and competition in the natural gas market,” DOE said.

The regulation largely matches legislation proposed last year by Sens. Bill CassidyBill CassidyCalls grow for national paid family leave amid pandemic Senators urge Energy chief to prioritize cybersecurity amid growing threats Vivek Murthy confirmed as surgeon general MORE (R-La.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley says if Trump runs for president in 2024 then she won't Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges MORE (R-Fla.) that would have set a similar bar for small-scale exports and allow such applications to be quickly approved.