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FERC wants help on LNG applications with staff 'stretched to the max'

A member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission launched a series of posts on social media to make a public plea for resources that would allow the agency to process more applications for U.S. LNG export projects.

Commissioner Neil Chatterjee made his case in a string of tweets late in the day July 2. He said the commission had done a good job moving forward pipeline projects that will provide significant new transportation capacity, much of that accomplished after FERC regained a voting quorum in 2017 when Chatterjee served as interim FERC chairman. "But there are some areas where we can and should do better — specifically our review of LNG export terminal applications," he tweeted. "We need more resources!"

Chatterjee, a Republican commissioner nominated by President Donald Trump, has made clear his support for coal-fired electric power generation and natural gas production. In his tweets, he said he would work with current FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre to bring the plea for resources to Congress. McIntyre made similar comments at an event hosted by the American Gas Association and on Capitol Hill.

Chatterjee said FERC needs more staff, especially engineers and attorneys, to handle the work of reviewing LNG export project applications. He said there are 13 applications pending at FERC that represent more than 23 Bcf/d of natural gas export capacity, and several more projects are in an earlier review stage. Some of the applications have been waiting at FERC since 2015, he said.

"FERC's world-class staff is burning the midnight oil reviewing those applications," he said. "But FERC staff also has to oversee existing LNG export terminals. They're stretched to the max!"

Chatterjee said gas export projects create thousands of jobs in the U.S. and are critical to supporting the country's geopolitical interests.

Environmental groups want FERC to limit its approvals of gas pipelines and LNG export terminals over concerns about the climate and environment. Some gas consumer groups also want limits on LNG exports, saying the activity would deplete the domestic gas supply and drive up prices.