US court halts pause on DOE non-FTA LNG export permits

A federal district judge in Louisiana has blocked a decision by the Biden administration on issuing non-FTA liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permits for new projects.

The Biden administration and the Department of Energy (DOE) announced in January this year that the DOE will temporarily pause review and approval of all new and pending applications for export authorization to non-free trade agreement (non-FTA) countries while DOE updates its assessment process.

US LNG firms such as Commonwealth LNG delayed final investment decisions on their LNG export developments citing the DOE pause in permit reviews, while the ban has impacted projects being developed by Sempra, Venture Global LNG, Cheniere, Energy Transfer, etc.

Sixteen states

In March this year, sixteen Republican-led states filed a lawsuit with the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to challenge the ban on permits requesting a stay on the decision.

The countries are Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and also Wyoming.

“As to the motion for preliminary injunction, the Court finds that the plaintiff states are entitled to the injunctive relief requested as to the LNG export ban,” according to a ruling signed by Judge James Cain.

“Accordingly, the Court will grant plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction, and order that the LNG export ban be stayed in its entirety, effective immediately,” the ruling said.

It remains unclear how this ruling will be implemented.

Several reports said, citing a statement by the DOE, that the regulator disagrees with the ruling, and will review the court’s order and evaluate next steps.

Approval for Venture Global’s CP2 LNG

This ruling comes just days after the US FERC has given the green light to Venture Global LNG for its proposed CP2 LNG project in Louisiana.

The regulator issued a final environmental impact statement for the CP2 LNG project, Venture Global’s third LNG export terminal, in July last year.

Besides the FERC approval, CP2 LNG also needs the non-FTA export authorization from the DOE.

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