The comment period was set for July 21, 2104 which many parties, including myself, felt was too short a comment period to adequately respond to all of the issues raised by the DOE's proposed changes and environmental studies.
Since the DOE denied another request, I filed comments by the due date but my request for an extension of time is posted below since it offers insight into the complexity of the issues raised. I will post additional updates about the DOE process and the issues raised by various parties at a later date.
** Request for Extension of Time to Extend Comment Period **
With the U.S. now on track to become one of the world’s largest LNG exporters, I commend the DOE for stepping back to ensure the proper procedures are in place so DOE can fulfill its legal obligation to determine the cumulative impact the large volume of LNG exports will have on the public’s interest.
As a law professor and author of a recent book on LNG, I intend to comment on the DOE’s proposed changes but due to the complex issues raised and for the reasons set forth below, I respectively request DOE to extend the comment period to 90-days.
As of June 11, 2014, the DOE has approved almost 40 Bcf/d of LNG exports to FTA and non-FTA countries, which represents over half of America’s current natural gas production of 69 Bcf/d. In April 2014, the U.S. consumed approximately 65 Bcf/d of natural gas, which was down from a winter weather high of over 80 Bcf/d.
The market has thus far responded to DOE’s willingness to approve export applications and according to industry insiders and status reports filed with DOE, approximately 60-80 MTPA of LNG exports is already under contract. The fact that this volume is already under contract obviously means that the business opportunity is there and these projects will go forward once final regulatory approval is secured.
The changing market dynamics in which a large volume of LNG exports has already been approved and is under contract gives coupled with other developments such as exporters and utilities buying up production gives rise to an extremely complicated public interest analysis that requires much more time than DOE’s 45-day comment period.
The analysis is further complicated by the inter-related studies (Environmental Review Documents and Life Cycle GHG Emissions) that were also released by DOE and subject to the same 45-day comment period.
These two studies raise extremely complicated issues related to environmental impacts of increased shale gas development to support large volume LNG exports and the life cycle GHG emissions of LNG exports. An understanding of these two studies is integral to understanding the DOE’s proposed procedural changes and the analysis of all of the documents released by DOE requires more time than 45-days.
Lastly, DOE has indicated that it intends to undertake another economic study to better understand how large volume LNG exports might impact the public’s interest. No timeframe was specified for this study and the findings of this study might well impact the analysis of the other documents the DOE has opened to public comment.
For the foregoing reasons and to ensure that the public has adequate time to review and analyze the complex issues raised by large volume LNG exports and the recently released environmental studies, I respectfully request that the public comment period be extended to at least 90-days.