OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Feds take key step toward faster natural gas exports

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: Federal officials Thursday proposed reforming the way they consider applications to export liquefied natural gas, a move they said would streamline the process while giving a boost to more commercially viable projects.

It's a contentious issue that has grown in prominence amid escalating tensions in Ukraine, which has suffered from its dependency on Russian natural gas supplies.


Many lawmakers on Capitol Hill have pressed the administration to speed up exports to non-Free Trade Agreement countries given the Ukrainian crisis.

Now, under the proposed system laid out by the Department of Energy (DOE), those lawmakers may get their wish. Applicants would have to go through the environmental review process before the department considers the export application. It would focus federal resources on projects that are financially stable enough to get through environmental review.

DOE’s actions are certainly good news for those who want to increase natural gas exports, and its sure to shift the conversation on the topic.

The department also released two environmental reports on increased LNG exports. One found that there’s no reason to conclude that exports would hurt the environment domestically, and another said they would decrease emissions in Europe and Asia.

Read more here  and here.

TICK, TOCK: With less than four days before President Obama proposes what may easily be considered the most important element of his second-term legacy, the White House went on the offensive.

In a 42-page report, the administration gave itself a pat on the back for championing climate change, and energy policies that it says spurred a domestic oil production boom, cutting imports, and leaving the U.S. less vulnerable to international gas price shocks.

The report said the current natural gas production landscape, and drop in oil consumption have put the U.S. in a prime position to pursue climate change goals, which can only lead to the first-ever carbon limits for existing power plants, right?

Correct. Stay tuned for Monday's big announcement, it's going to be a climate game-changer.


DOE  loans ... A House Energy and Commerce subpanel will hold a hearing on DOE’s loan programs. They will hear from Peter Davidson, director of DOE’s loan programs; Ricky Hass, the deputy inspector general for audits and investigations at DOE’s Office of Inspector General; and Frank Rusco, director of energy and science issues at the Government Accountability Office.

DOE’s loan program has proven extremely controversial, and multiple companies that received loans have gone bankrupt. But DOE officials have repeatedly defended the program, saying the loans have overall performed better than most private sector portfolios.

Colorado energy forum ... Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will join Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) Friday for an energy forum at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. Udall, who is up for reelection against Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is framing the event with Moniz and state energy leaders as the end of a year-and-a-half long energy tour around the state.

Climate change ... Child advocacy group First Focus is hosting a briefing on the White House national climate report. The talk will focus on the impact of climate change on asthma and allergies for children and families.

Chief of air pollution and respiratory health at the Centers for Disease Control, Paul Garbe, and Janie Nolen, assistant vice president of the American Lung Association will be participate in the briefing.



Climate rule ... White House adviser John Podesta Thursday boasted that the administration's regulation limiting carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants would be a net benefit to the U.S.

"The president believes we have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that's not polluted or damaged," he said on a call with reporters Thursday. "We think based on a cost benefit analysis that the net benefits of this rule will be quite substantial."

Speaking of Podesta ... The president's adviser trekked to the Capitol to meet with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and a few other members Thursday evening to talk about Monday's rollout of the carbon rule, Van Hollen told The Hill.

LNG ... Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) commended the Energy Department for it's step toward expediting the approval process of natural gas export facilities.

"I have long warned that the United States faces a narrowing window of opportunity to enter the global gas trade. Projects have languished in the so-called ‘queue’ awaiting approvals from two separate agencies in a parallel process that often did not function well," Murkowksi said in a statement.  "This proposal for reform is a positive step toward fixing a needlessly confusing regulatory review that had become disengaged from economic reality."


A Peabody Energy Corp. executive told SNL Financial that issues of energy poverty are causing the world to turn to coal more than ever before, responding to a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. report saying the opposite.

China is spending four times as much as the United States on developing some shale gas fields, Bloomberg News reports.

The new carbon emissions limits for power plants could increase natural gas demand by up to 45 percent, the Houston Chronicle reports.


Check out Thursday's stories...

- GAO shuts down McConnell's push to block EPA carbon reg
- Federal environmental reports favor natural gas exports
- WH accuses climate rule critics of scare tactics
- Markey, Pope talk climate change
- Feds streamline reviews of natural gas exports
- Green group: Obama climate rule will save consumers $37 billion
- Exxon CEO: Russia not hurt by US energy sanctions
- Ohio to freeze renewable energy rules
- Sen. Hagan blasts GOP's Tillis on climate
- Majority of House wants renewable fuel changes
- Rahall blasts incoming EPA power plant rule
- Boehner 'not qualified' to debate climate change
- Poll: Majority support carbon limits on coal plants
- US to back loans for international forest preservation
- Biodiesel producers push for higher mandate
- Analysis: Lifting crude export ban would create jobs, cut gas prices
- White House boasts on energy agenda
- Obama confident on EPA


Please send tips and comments to Laura Barron-Lopez, laurab@thehill.com and Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com.