February 28, 2019

Cassidy, Murkowski, Gardner Reintroduce Legislation to Expedite FERC Review of Energy Infrastructure Applications

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the Timely Review of Infrastructure Act (S 607), legislation aimed at reducing the long wait times for federal approval of energy infrastructure projects, including LNG projects. A shortage of highly specialized engineers, scientists, and mathematicians tasked with reviewing construction applications at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has created a backlog of projects waiting to receive approval, and Cassidy’s bill would improve the FERC’s ability to hire the qualified staff it needs to process project applications in a timely, efficient manner.

“FERC’s backlog of applications for these infrastructure projects is standing in the way of good-paying jobs for Louisiana families,” said Dr. Cassidy, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy. “FERC needs the expertise and manpower to speed up the review process and end long wait times for new natural gas terminals that benefit Louisiana workers and their families.”

“The U.S. is now the world’s largest producer of natural gas and oil, which means we are well-positioned to help other nations diversify their energy supplies and achieve a greater level of energy security,” said Senator Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “Yet, that will only become a reality if we can resolve the application backlog at FERC and allow infrastructure projects to move forward. Our bill would give FERC the ability to hire more people with the right technical expertise to streamline this process and make timely decisions.”

“LNG projects like Jordan Cove and other infrastructure projects that create jobs and bring economic opportunity to Colorado often experience longs delays due to staffing shortages at the Commission. This bipartisan bill will make sure FERC has the resources they need to speed up the approval process and make sure the United States remains a global leader in energy production,” said Senator Gardner.  

“The U.S. LNG industry is on course for a remarkable year in 2019 with multiple projects entering service and many more navigating the regulatory process. The Timely Review of Infrastructure Act would give FERC the flexibility to bolster its highly skilled staff to handle the increased workload associated with our growing industry. This legislation would ensure a reliable and efficient review process for U.S. LNG projects and the Center for LNG is thankful that Senators Cassidy, Murkowski, and Gardner and Representative Olson are committed to providing FERC with necessary tools to support U.S. LNG growth,” said Charlie Riedl, Executive Director of the Center for LNG.

U.S. Representatives Pete Olson (R-TX) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) are cosponsoring similar legislation in the House.

“America’s dominance as an energy supplier continues to thrive, reducing allies reliance on hostile regimes around the world,” Representative Pete Olson said. “However, we struggle to meet the growing international demand for American energy thanks to barriers in the approval process by the federal government. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has a serious backlog of projects awaiting approval, grinding the process almost to a halt. Our bill will allow FERC to remain competitive and attract high quality talent for specialized energy jobs to address this backlog and get energy to those who need it. Our Texas and American-made energy should be processed and shipped to markets that demand it. I thank Sens. Cassidy, Murkowski and Gardner for recognizing the importance of this issue and introducing the Senate companion to the bill introduced in the House by Rep. Doyle and myself.”

“The United States is a leader in energy production, and ensuring that domestic projects are approved with strong safety and environmental protections is key,” Representative Mike Doyle said. “Unfortunately, the engineers FERC needs to review applications for new energy projects are in such high demand that normal federal government pay levels can’t begin to compete with the salaries offered in the private sector. If we want FERC to ensure that these facilities and projects include the necessary safeguards to protect nearby communities and the environment, then we have to make the pay for the engineers who review the applications more competitive. That’s why I’ve been working with Pete Olson to draft this legislation, and I’m very pleased to announce its introduction today.”

FERC currently has 13 pending applications for new LNG export facilities, and four projects in the pre-filing process. Of these 17 projects, Alaska, Oregon, Florida, Arkansas, and Mississippi have one project each, with the rest in Louisiana and Texas. The Louisiana projects awaiting approval include the Driftwood LNG and Magnolia LNG site near Lake Charles, Fourchon LNG in Lafourche Parish, and the Plaquemines LNG project in Plaquemines Parish.

In August 2018, Cassidy and Murkowski urged FERC to approve pending liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project applications in a timely manner, and sought information regarding FERC’s approval process and the agency’s available resources.

Cassidy has also spearheaded legislation that would streamline the approval process for small-scale LNG exports.