Earlier this year the Obama administration announced a major overhaul of its review process for US liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has recently finalized its plans for reform in this area. Under the proposal, the DOE will no longer issue conditional approvals of projects. Instead, the DOE will decide whether an LNG export project is in the national interest only after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or another agency, has issued a final environmental review. This represents a major change from prior procedures where DOE reviewed export applications, based predominantly on the order in which they were received. The changes are designed to ensure that the DOE process is efficient by prioritizing resources on the more advanced projects (i.e. those projects which commercially are closer to a final investment decision).
These changes allow projects that are in more advanced stages to bypass the previous first-come, first-served order of processing. This is welcomed by many as a more rational process, with the meritorious projects being able to move forward more efficiently, rather than being held in a queue behind projects which may never reach fruition.