April 20, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate passed legislation today aimed at overcoming bureaucratic roadblocks that prevent expedited shipments of American natural gas exports to buyers around the world. The provision, authored by U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), was included in the bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012). The bill also includes a number of other energy-state provisions that are important to the West, Barrasso said.
“Expediting American LNG exports will create jobs in Wyoming and across America while reducing our trade deficit,” Barrasso said. “It will also give our allies and strategic partners around the world a way to decrease their dependence on Russian gas.”
“We are a willing seller of natural gas and there are buyers around the world who want access to our product,” Barrasso added. “The Department of Energy should no longer be a roadblock to moving Wyoming gas to allies who need it.”
According to Barrasso, LNG exports have languished due to an overly delayed permitting process. The Department of Energy (DOE) spends on average more than 200 days - or seven months - between the end of the environmental review process and the time it decides whether a project is consistent with the “public interest.”
The provision sponsored by Barrasso and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) would force DOE to speed up its decision-making process for exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The bill addresses the current bureaucratic delays by requiring the secretary of Energy to make a final decision on an LNG export application no more than 45 days after an environmental review document for the project is published. It also provides for expedited judicial review of legal challenges to LNG export projects.
“LNG isn’t the only victory we secured in this bill. It also gives Indian tribes greater control of the management and development of their energy resources, and improves the way we manage water storage and delivery in the West,” said Barrasso.
Background on additional Barrasso provisions included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act:
Barrasso secured the adoption of an amendment to the bill requiring federal agencies to speed up the environmental review process for helium-related projects. Wyoming is home to half of the nation’s crude helium reserves, nearly all of which is located on federal land. The amendment directs federal agencies to prioritize National Environmental Policy Act reviews for helium-related projects.
Barrasso-Schatz CO2 Capture Technology Provision
Barrasso’s and Senator Brian Schatz’s (D-HI) provision creates a prize system to encourage innovation in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and permanently sequestering it. The program would be established by a federal commission under the Department of Energy. The commission, appointed by the president, would be comprised of physicists, chemists, engineers, business managers and economists.
Tribal Energy Development Provision
The Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments, formerly known as S. 209, was introduced by Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Barrasso and Vice Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT). The provision will give Indian tribes more tools to develop energy resources and remove barriers to economic development. This provision also passed the full Senate on Dec. 10, 2015, by unanimous consent.
Bureau of Reclamation Transparency Provision
Barrasso and Schatz introduced the bipartisan Bureau of Reclamation Transparency Act (S. 593) last year. The legislation was included as an amendment to the energy bill, and requires the secretary of the Interior to submit a report on the bureau’s backlog to Congress. This would help provide a detailed assessment of the bureau’s major repair and rehabilitation needs. It also asks the bureau to develop a similar assessment for its sites that are managed by other entities.
Lincoln County’s Fontenelle Reservoir Expansion Provision
Barrasso introduced this legislation last year, and it was included as an amendment to the energy bill. The provision allows the expansion of water storage at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County by adding riprap. Riprap is a foundation or sustaining wall of stones or concrete chunks that prevent erosion.
The provision directs the state of Wyoming and the bureau to reach an agreement allowing Wyoming to complete the riprap project. The state would pay for the cost of completing the project. Wyoming would also have rights to the stored water if the riprap project is completed.