New England Lawmakers Urge Regional Approach To LNG Facilities

Feb 23, 2006

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Washington, DC—A bipartisan group of New England lawmakers yesterday wrote to Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman requesting a meeting to discuss developing a new regional approach to locating facilities for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports.  Energy companies that would like to build onshore facilities currently apply for permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which reviews each application on a project-by-project basis. 

 

 In the letter to Secretary Bodman, the elected officials state that "[t]he current permitting process evaluates these new LNG import facilities as they are proposed and treats each LNG facility in isolation, rather than in conjuncture with other proposed facilities.  We believe that this ad hoc approach is unsuitable for New England and that a more comprehensive and regional approach is required.”

 

 Below is the full text of the bipartisan letter:

 

February 23, 2006

 

The Honorable Samuel W. Bodman
Secretary of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585

 

Dear Secretary Bodman:

 

We are writing to request that you meet with us to help arrive at a rational process for siting LNG facilities in our region.  We strongly support the construction of additional LNG facilities in New England, but we believe that a new strategy needs to be implemented that will weigh important project factors and improve interagency coordination for LNG siting.

 

As you know, several agencies share responsibility for federal approval of new LNG import terminals. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) grants federal approval for the siting of onshore LNG facilities.  The FERC also authorizes the construction and operation of interstate natural gas pipelines. However, the Coast Guard has primary responsibility for the siting and construction of offshore LNG facilities. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other agencies also play roles in the permitting processes for LNG facilities.

 

This assortment of responsible agencies means that close coordination is critical, but unfortunately, this is not happening.  In particular, it does not appear that FERC coordinates sufficiently with other permitting agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard.  The current permitting process evaluates these new LNG import facilities as they are proposed and treats each LNG facility in isolation, rather than in conjuncture with other proposed facilities.  We believe that this ad hoc approach is unsuitable for New England and that a more comprehensive and regional approach is required.

 

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.  We look forward to your response.

 

Sincerely,
 
Senator Edward M. Kennedy    

Senator John F. Kerry
Congressman Barney Frank    

Congressman Edward J. Markey
Congressman William D. Delahunt   

Congressman James P. McGovern
Congressman Stephen F. Lynch    

Congressman Christopher Shays
Congressman Robert R. Simmons   

Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy 
Congressman James Langevin   

Congressman Tom Allen  
Congressman Michael H. Michaud

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