FERC Moving Forward on Pending LNG Projects and Houston Office
On Oct. 30 we met with a key FERC staff member to inquire about the delay in the decision-making schedule for the LNG projects that are ripe for decision and to discuss the Houston office. With respect to the first issue, we were told that the goal is to clean out the backlog no later than year-end. We were also told that given opposition to some of the pending projects it is important that FERC reach “strong, legally defensible decisions.” As with recent approvals of the Eagle LNG and Plaquemines projects, orders can be issued when ready (“notationally”) and do not need to be decided at one of the monthly open meetings.
Plans for a FERC office of eight people in Houston are moving ahead. The Houston staff will be focused on LNG work and report to the new LNG Division head. How quickly the HOU office opens depends on the availability of secure office space. (The General Services Administration is hopeful that space can be found soon, most likely within a current GSA leased building). The Houston office would oversee LNG construction work and ongoing liquefaction operations. The hiring process for a LNG Division chief “is well underway” we were told. While FERC currently seems able to recruit the needed personnel for its LNG responsibilities, the flexibility to pay higher salaries as would be permitted under Sen. Bill Cassidy’s (R-LA) “Timely Review of Infrastructure Act” would be helpful since it would expand the applicant pool.