Calling for a moratorium on natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzales (D-TX), Bill Flores (R-TX), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Jim Costa (D-CA), and Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) recently forwarded correspondence to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with a plea to continue business as normal.
The letter, addressed to FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, called for an outright rejection of a moratorium on approving and constructing new projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, labeling such measures essential to energy security. The representatives also noted the role that FERC itself in ensuring that people throughout the country have access to affordable and reliable energy.
“Even in uncertain times, we know that American prosperity and energy security are intrinsically linked, and that is why the energy sector is critical to our current response and will be a key component of our recovery,” the lawmakers wrote. “To this end, the maintenance and development of critical energy infrastructure – such as natural gas pipelines and liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities – is vital to the nation’s safety, prosperity, and well-being.”
Construction on previously approved projects should be able to continue, so long as they abide by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state guidelines, the members argued. To do any less would create significant job losses. Likewise, to close public engagement — something they labeled critical to FERC actions — would threaten the U.S. ability to produce and deliver essential fuels. And while the crisis might cause short-term dampening of demand, the members cited the long-term outlook for domestic natural gas utilization — gas consumption makes up around one-third of American energy consumption, with shares expected to rise — as a reason to keep business moving.
“We agree that public engagement in FERC proceedings remains a critical component in the infrastructure approval process, but a moratorium is both unnecessary and detrimental to the nation’s energy security,” the members wrote. “During this period, FERC should move forward, as health and safety constraints may allow, with all applications for review of natural gas intrastate pipelines and LNG facilities, while embracing new forms of public engagement.”
Gonzalez is the chair of the House Oil and Gas Caucus, while Fletcher, Flores, Johnson, and Costa are co-chairs of the Natural Gas Caucus.