Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission broke its deadlock over the approval of liquid natural gas terminals.
- Commissioners have stated a two-party convention on how to account for greenhouse gas emissions.
- The Energy Department sees this as a great "breakthrough" for American energy.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) broke a two-year partisan lock on Thursday night to approve an LNG export terminal in Louisiana.
Top Department of Energy (DOE) officials said this was a major breakthrough that would address a growing problem for US energy producers ̵
"We have been promoting energy from the United States around the world, and today's decision by FERC is a very important one," DOE deputy Dan Brouillette told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview.
Calcasieu Pass The LNG export terminal is the first such project to obtain FERC approval in two years. Republican FERC Commissioners Neil Chatterjee, President and Bernard McNamee worked with Democrat Cheryl LaFleur to have an agreement to get his support.
Chatterjee and McNamee needed LaFleur's vote to approve Calcasieu Pass, which they secured after preparing a new approach to account for greenhouse gas emissions from the export facility.
"This is a huge breakthrough," said DOE under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes TheDCNF. "We hope it will act as an analytical template ahead."
Finally, Calcasieu Pass terminal will export up to 12 million tons of LNG per year. Brouillette said the project already has buyers, also in Europe waiting for US natural gas.
Hydraulic fracture and horizontal drilling fueled an oil and natural gas boom over the last decade, making the United States the world's best hydrocarbon producer. A limiting factor for oil and gas is the lack of export terminals and pipelines.
Menezes said breaking FERC's deadlock was also an important step in helping DOE improve its own LNG terminal approval process, including "making sure there are no duplicate reviews."
Getting approval for Building an LNG export terminal is a long, complicated process that requires approval from several agencies. FERC is currently lagging behind a dozen LNG projects awaiting approval. (RELATED: Obama EPA regulations due to closure of 100-year coal works)
Trump administration has pushed for faster approvals for LNG terminals, but FERC has kept the process up with pressure from environmental groups to factor global heating in its approval process.
For example, LaFleur called on FERC to estimate factor such as the controversial "social cost of carbon" for a cost-benefit analysis. But LaFleur agreed to compromise with his Republican counterparts.
Today's order shows that @FERC can act when commissioners are committed and willing to compromise. I remain committed to moving our work forward, but will continue to consider each project on the benefits.
– Cheryl LaFleur (@CLaFleurFERC) February 22, 2019
FERC's Second Democratic Commissioner Richard Glimmering at the Terminal, arguing that his colleagues "deliberately ignored the consequences of his actions on climate change."
The Commission's environmental audit of Calcasieu Pass found that the plant would amount to approx. 3.9 million Ton's carbon dioxide emissions annually – about 0.07 percent of total US emissions.
Brouillette claimed that while an individual LNG export terminal would issue greenhouse gases, it would help lower global emissions because countries want gas as an alternative to coal.
"To the extent that LNG moves coal around the world, we believe the impact will be positive," Brouillette said.  Brouillette also stressed the geopolitical implications of LNG exports and the role that energy could play in President Donald Trump's foreign policy.
"These are decisions that affect the president's ability to make foreign policy decisions," Brouillette told TheDCNF. "We help Poland, we help Lithuania, we help the Baltic states."
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