Senate ENR Committee Votes to Approve FERC Nominees, Keystone XL Bill
On Wednesday, June 18, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee held a business meeting in executive session at which it voted to favorably report a number of President Obama’s nominees for energy policy positions in the executive branch. Under a deal reportedly worked out with the White House, the committee voted favorably to report President Obama’s nomination of Mr. Norman Bay to serve as chairman of the FERC nine months from now and for the President’s re-nomination of current commissioner Cheryl LaFleur to serve as chairman in the interim..
The committee also voted to favorably report Chairman Landrieu’s legislation, the “Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act,” to the full Senate along a nearly party-line vote. Chairman Landrieu’s legislation would authorize construction of the Keystone pipeline without the need for executive branch approval but will not disrupt local landowner rights. All Republican members of the ENR committee voted in favor of the legislation, along with Chairman Landrieu and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), while remaining committee Democrats voted against the bill.
FERC Approves Construction of the Cameron LNG Export Facility
On Thursday, June 19, the FERC approved siting and construction of the Cameron liquefaction project in Louisiana, which is owned by Sempra Energy Corp., and could export up to 2.33 billion cubic feet per day once in operation. In announcing the decision, the FERC noted that the commission’s approval of the project represent the second time FERC has approved an LNG export project. The first project approved by FERC was the Sabine Pass project in 2012.
FERC Issues Final Environmental Assessment For Freeport LNG Facility Expansion
On Monday, June 16, the FERC issued a final environmental assessment concluding that construction of the Freeport LNG liquefaction project in Texas would “result in mostly temporary and short-term environmental impacts” that would not be significant. The finding is based, in part, on the fact that the Freeport application intends to expand an existing import terminal. DOE has already provided conditional approval for the Freeport expansion project, and once finally approved by DOE, the facility could export as much as 1.8 billion cubic feet per day for up to 20 years.
Murray Energy Files Early Challenge to EPA GHG Proposal For Existing Power Plants
On Wednesday, June 18, Murray Energy Corp. filed an early petition challenging the legal basis of the EPA’s proposed rule to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants. In the petition, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the company argues that EPA’s proposal inappropriately relies on Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act because existing power plants are already regulated by Section 112 of the statute (among other assertions) and seeks a writ that would prevent the agency from promulgating a final rule that relies on Section 111(d).