* Lawmakers say slow pace could hurt US LNG export projects
* DOE urged to consider multiple applications at a time
* Critics warn more exports could boost U.S. gas prices
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, July 10 A bipartisan group of U.S.
senators on Wednesday called on the Energy Department to speed
up its planned review process for proposals to ship U.S.
liquefied natural gas (LNG) abroad.
"We are concerned that the timeline for considering these
applications may jeopardize our ability to retain a competitive
position against other natural gas exporting nations," more than
two dozen lawmakers, including top Senate Republican Mitch
McConnell, said in a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
The Energy Department, which recently approved an LNG export
proposal, has signaled it may take about eight weeks to review
each of 20 other proposals. The senators warned that the United
States could lose out to international competition in the LNG
market if the department does not hasten that pace.
Led by Republican Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma, and Democrat Mark
Begich, of Alaska, the lawmakers asked the department whether it
would consider evaluating multiple applications at a time and
prioritizing projects that have established they are
The U.S. shale boom has put the nation in a position to be a
major gas exporter. But some lawmakers including Senator-elect
Edward Markey of Massachusetts have warned that unlimited
exports could raise U.S. energy prices for manufacturers and
After a pause of nearly two years in decisions on LNG
exports, the department approved Freeport LNG's Quintana Island,
Texas terminal in May. Its eight-week review process could mean
imminent action on the next application, BG Group and
Southern Union Company's Lake Charles project.
But with 20 projects in line for permission to send U.S. gas
to foreign countries, the lawmakers said waiting two months
between project decisions would push the ruling on the final
project out to two years from now.
Secretary Moniz has repeatedly said the department plans to
consider applications on a case by case basis and said he does
not plan to reconsider the queue it set up in December, which
gives preference to projects that have filed for a license from
the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.