The US Department of Energy (DoE) has issued a rule to exclude some licensing and environmental requirements for liquefied natural gas export projects that had previously been required in a show of support for the energy industry by the outgoing Administration of President Donald Trump.
The rule, which the Department of Energy issued in a pre-publication notice in the Federal Register, frees LNG export and import license applications from including environmental reviews that had been required under an environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act.
The DoE said it was updating its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing procedures pertaining to authorizations issued under the Natural Gas Act.
“These changes will improve the efficiency of the DoE decision-making process by saving time and expense in the NEPA compliance process and eliminating unnecessary environmental documentation for these actions that the DoE has determined normally do not have significant effects,” said the filing to be published in the Federal Register on December 4, 2020.
The DoE said in the notice that the rule would “save time and expense in the NEPA compliance process”. The rule is effective 30 days after December 4 Federal Register publication.
President Biden could overturn DoE ruling
Analysts said there was a possibility that the incoming President Joe Biden could overturn the DoE ruling. President Trump was keen to supply US allies with LNG and the largest recipients of cargoes have been to countries like South Korea and Japan as well as European countries which have been taking US LNG cargoes as an available alternative to Russian pipeline natural gas.
The DoE rule would not affect environmental reviews by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the other government office that reviews LNG projects.