Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Senate approves FERC Control over LNG

The United States Senate has joined the House of Reporesentatives in granting authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the permitting of onshore Liquefied Natural Gas terminals.

The Senate voted today to give federal regulators the last word on the location of liquefied natural gas terminals, despite objections from governors, including California's Arnold Schwarzenegger, that states should be an equal partner in deciding where the controversial facilities are built.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) led a bipartisan group of senators in an attempt to add to energy legislation a provision that would give governors an opportunity to veto projects they consider a safety risk. The measure was rejected 52-45.

The House-approved energy bill includes a similar provision that would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the final say over where the terminals are built, virtually ensuring that the measure will be included in any final bill that emerges from Congress.

The vote would seem to run counter to the Republican-controlled Congress' tendency to support states' rights.

But President Bush has pushed to give federal regulators the final decision over liquefied natural gas projects, expressing concern that bureaucracy has delayed projects critical to ensuring adequate supplies of natural gas at affordable prices to fuel the economy.

"There is a lot of talk about gasoline, a lot of speeches being made about prices at the pump. That's by far not the biggest problem we have in the United States right now," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former governor. "Our biggest challenge is the price of natural gas."