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House Sends Administration Strong Rebuke on LNG Pause

Analysis by Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley

LNG export
Energy Workforce President Tim Tarpley

On Thursday of last week, the House passed H.R. 7176, “Unlocking our Domestic LNG Potential Act” 224-200. This strong bipartisan vote total is somewhat of a rarity in the closely divided partisan House. The yes votes included a number of Democrats who crossed party lines to support the legislation. Democratic members Caraveo, Cuellar, Costa, Golden, Gonzalez, Larsen, Peltola, Perez and Veasey all supported the measure. Democrats were not hesitant to express their support for the measure. “I’m for American energy, I’m for Texas, and I’m for my congressional district, as simple as that,” said Gonzalez. “Some people have really lost it on the idea of how we treat American energy in this country.”

In short, if H.R. 7176 becomes law, it would remove the DOE “national interest” test that is currently in place to receive a permit for LNG export facilities that plan to export LNG to non-FTA countries, which make up over 80% of US LNG cargos. In practice, the passage of H.R. 7176 would end the current administration pause as DOE would no longer have the authority to issue the permits. The bill now moves to the Senate, where its future appears murkier despite the decisive House vote. However, on a positive note, many Democrat Senators have publicly expressed concern over the pause. Just this past weekend, Senator Bennet (D-CO) joined the chorus of objectors during an appearance on the Sunday talk circuit. He joins Senator Fetterman and Casey of Pennsylvania and Senator Manchin of West Virginia, who have all publicly lodged their displeasure with the pause. What they have not said, however, is that they would necessarily support H.R. 7176 (or its Senate companion) as the legislative solution.

What are the next steps? Perhaps the most straightforward pathway is if Democratic members continue publicly expressing their concern about the pause, the administration may reverse course (or speed the “review” up) and end the pause on their own. This would clearly be the quickest and cleanest solution. However, this move would open up the administration to criticism on their left, so they may be hesitant to reverse course unless they think they absolutely have to. The other potential scenario is that a compromise piece of legislation, perhaps a bit nuanced from H.R. 7176, gets adequate support to pass both chambers. This could be something along the lines of ending the DOE permit necessity for NATO countries and/or certain other US allies. Language like this has been previously supported by Democratic members such as Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, who didn’t support H.R. 7176 on the floor. There could be openings there to attempt to include language like this in a must-pass legislation before the end of the year. Another option could be appropriations language that limits DOE’s ability to continue the pause which is currently being worked on the House side.

SEC Rule Back From the Dead?

After months of silence from the SEC on the fate of the final rule, causing many to think it could be on indefinite hold, rumors are circulating that the rule could be coming in short order. According to two officials who spoke to Politico, the SEC may vote on the long-awaited rule that has been in preliminary discussion for over two years. According to the sources, draft copies of the final rule have been circulated among the SEC’s five commissioners, and there is hope of having the rule adopted by the end of March. We should probably take these rumors circulating with a grain of salt, as I can count at least four prior times when a date for the rule has been discussed in the media for a final rule only to be later passed up or delayed by the agency. EWTC will continue to follow these developments closely, and if/when the final rule does drop, we will have a series of supporting materials and events for our members.

Tim Tarpley, Energy Workforce President, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.



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