Procedures for Liquefied Natural Gas Export Decisions, 48132-48136 [2014-19364]

Download as PDF 48132 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 158 / Friday, August 15, 2014 / Notices (202) 219–3032. The registration deadline is Tuesday, September 2, 2014. Individuals who will need accommodations for a disability in order to attend the hearing (i.e., interpreting services, assistive listening devices, and/or materials in alternative format) should notify the Advisory Committee no later than Tuesday, September 2, 2014 by contacting Ms. Tracy Jones at (202) 219–2099 or via email at tracy.deanna.jones@ed.gov. We will attempt to meet requests after this date, but cannot guarantee availability of the requested accommodation. The hearing site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TTY) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FRS) toll free at 1–800– 877–8339. Records are kept for Advisory Committee proceedings, and are available for inspection at the Office of the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, Capitol Place, 80 F Street NW., Suite 413, Washington, DC from the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Information regarding the Advisory Committee is available on the Committee’s Web site, www2.ed.gov/ ACSFA. Dated: August 11, 2014. William J. Goggin, Executive Director, Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. [FR Doc. 2014–19326 Filed 8–14–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Addendum to Environmental Review Documents Concerning Exports of Natural Gas From the United States Freeport LNG Expansion, L.P. and FLNG Liquefaction, LLC. Cameron LNG, LLC .............. emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with NOTICES Jordan Cove Energy Project, L.P. Lake Charles Exports, LLC and Trunkline LNG Export, LLC. LNG Development Company, LLC (d/b/a Oregon LNG). Cheniere Marketing, LLC ...... Excelerate Liquefaction Solutions I, LLC. CE FLNG, LLC ...................... Magnolia LNG, LLC .............. Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:31 Aug 14, 2014 [DOE/EIS– 0487] [DOE/EIS– 0488] [DOE/EIS– 0489] [DOE/EIS– 0491] [DOE/EIS– 0492] [DOE/EIS– 0493] [DOE/EIS– 0494] [DOE/EIS– 0497] [DOE/EIS– 0498] [DOE/EA– 1942] Jkt 232001 Southern LNG Company, L.L.C. Golden Pass Products LLC .. Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC. [DOE/EA– 1963] [DOE/EA– 1971] [DOE/EA– 1983] Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy. ACTION: Notice of Availability of Addendum to Environmental Review Documents Concerning Exports of Natural Gas from the United States. AGENCY: The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) of the Department of Energy (DOE) announces the availability of the Addendum to Environmental Review Documents Concerning Exports of Natural Gas From the United States (Addendum). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Anderson, U.S. Department of Energy (FE–34), Office of Natural Gas Regulatory Activities, Office of Fossil Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 3E– 042, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585; Edward LeDuc, U.S. Department of Energy (GC–51), Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Environment, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585. ADDRESSES: The Addendum and other relevant documents are available for download at http://www.energy.gov/fe/ services/natural-gas-regulation, and for inspection and copying in the Division of Natural Gas Regulatory Activities docket room, Room 3E–042, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585. The docket room is open between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of this Addendum is to provide additional information to the public regarding the potential environmental impacts of unconventional natural gas exploration and production activities. DOE has received many comments in related proceedings expressing concerns about the potential impacts from increased development of unconventional natural gas resources in the United States, particularly production that involves hydraulic fracturing. While not required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), DOE has prepared this Addendum in an effort to be responsive to the public and provide the best information available. On June 4, 2014, DOE published a Federal Register notice (79 FR 32258) announcing the availability of the draft Addendum for public review and comment. The comment period closed SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 on July 21, 2014. DOE received 18 comment submittals, comprised of a total of 40,754 individual comments. DOE considered all the comments and prepared the final Addendum. In an effort to assist readers DOE used bold text and vertical lines in the margin to indicate where the draft Addendum has been revised or supplemented. A summary of the public comments and DOE’s responses is included in the final Addendum. Issued in Washington, DC, on August 11, 2014. Christopher A. Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Fossil Energy. [FR Doc. 2014–19368 Filed 8–14–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Procedures for Liquefied Natural Gas Export Decisions Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy. ACTION: Final revised procedures. AGENCY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) will act on applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the lower-48 states to countries with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement requiring national treatment for natural gas only after completing the review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), suspending its practice of issuing conditional decisions prior to final authorization decisions. DATES: Effective Date: August 15, 2014. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Anderson, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Oil and Gas Global Security and Supply, Office of Fossil Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 3E–042, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586–5600; Samuel Walsh, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the General Counsel, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586–6732. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: I. Proposed Procedural Change The Department of Energy is responsible for authorizing exports of natural gas to foreign nations pursuant to section 3 of the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. 717b. For proposed exports to countries with which the United States lacks a free trade agreement requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas (non-FTA countries), the Department conducts an informal E:\FR\FM\15AUN1.SGM 15AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 158 / Friday, August 15, 2014 / Notices emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with NOTICES adjudication and grants the application unless the Department finds that the proposed exportation will not be consistent with the public interest. 15 U.S.C. 717b(a). Before reaching a final decision on a non-FTA application, the Department must also comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. Typically, the agency responsible for permitting the export facility serves as the lead agency in the NEPA review process and DOE serves as a cooperating agency within the meaning of the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) regulations. 40 CFR 1501.4, 1501.5. For LNG terminals located onshore or in state waters, the agency responsible for permitting the export facilities is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) pursuant to Section 3(e) of the Natural Gas Act. 15 U.S.C. 717b(e). For LNG terminals located offshore beyond state waters, the responsible agency is the Maritime Administration (MARAD) within the Department of Transportation pursuant to Section 3(9) of the Deepwater Ports Act, as amended by Section 312 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112–213). For more than 30 years, DOE’s regulations governing natural gas imports and exports have allowed for conditional decisions, on a discretionary basis, before DOE completes its review process.1 DOE’s regulations at 10 CFR 590.402, entitled ‘‘Conditional orders,’’ state that DOE may issue a conditional order at any time during a proceeding prior to issuance of a final opinion and order. In the past three years, DOE has issued eight conditional authorizations for exports of LNG to non-FTA countries.2 In each of these proceedings, DOE has made preliminary findings on all factors relating to the public interest other than environmental issues. The conditional authorization orders have explained that, before taking final action, DOE will reconsider its public interest analysis in 1 Dep’t of Energy, Import and Export of Natural Gas; New Administrative Procedures; Proposed Rule, 46 FR 44696 (Sept. 4, 1981). 2 LNG Develop. Co., LLC (d/b/a Oregon LNG), DOE/FE Order No. 3465 (July 31, 2014) [hereinafter Oregon LNG]; Jordan Cove Energy Project, L.P., DOE/FE Order No. 3413 (March 24, 2014); Cameron LNG, LLC, DOE/FE Order No. 3391 (Feb. 11, 2014); Freeport LNG Expansion, L.P. et al., DOE/FE Order No. 3357 (Nov. 15, 2013); Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP, DOE/Order No. 3331 (September 11, 2013); Lake Charles Exports, LLC, DOE/FE Order No. 3324 (Aug. 7, 2013); Freeport LNG Expansion, L.P. et al., DOE/FE Order No. 3282 (May 17, 2013); Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC, DOE/FE Order No. 2961 (May 20, 2011). VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:31 Aug 14, 2014 Jkt 232001 light of the information gathered in the environmental review.3 DOE has acted on non-FTA LNG export applications according to the order of precedence posted on DOE’s Web site on December 5, 2012. On June 4, 2014, however, DOE published a notice in the Federal Register proposing to suspend its practice of issuing conditional decisions prior to completion of the NEPA review process for LNG export applications from the lower-48 states. Dep’t of Energy, Proposed Procedures for Liquefied Natural Gas Export Decisions; Notice of Proposed Procedures, 79 FR 32261 (Proposed Procedures Notice). DOE did not propose to amend 10 CFR 590.402 and, therefore, under the proposal would retain discretion to issue conditional decisions in the future. DOE explained that, under the newly proposed procedures, DOE would cease to act on non-FTA LNG export applications according to the published order of precedence. Instead, DOE would act on applications in the order they become ready for final action. The Proposed Procedures Notice stated that an application is ready for final action when DOE has sufficient information on which to base a public interest determination and when DOE has completed its NEPA review. The Proposed Procedures Notice further explained that, for purposes of setting the order in which DOE will act, an application would be deemed to have completed the pertinent NEPA review process as follows: (1) For those projects requiring an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), 30 days after publication of a Final EIS; (2) for projects for which an Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared, upon publication by DOE of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI); or (3) upon a determination by DOE that an application is eligible for a categorical exclusion pursuant to DOE’s regulations implementing NEPA, 10 CFR 1021.410, Appx. A & B. DOE explained that this test would apply in the same fashion regardless of whether FERC, MARAD, or DOE has served as the lead agency for preparation of the environmental review document. The Proposed Procedures Notice also made clear that the proposed procedures would not affect the continued validity of the conditional authorizations DOE had already issued. For those applications, DOE stated it would proceed as explained in the orders: By reconsidering the conditional authorization in light of the information 3 See, e.g., Oregon LNG, DOE/FE Order No. 3465, at 138. PO 00000 Frm 00022 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 48133 gathered in the environmental review once that review is complete and taking appropriate final action. The Department offered four reasons for the proposed procedural change. See Proposed Procedures Notice at 79 FR 32263–32264. First, the Department explained that conditional authorizations no longer appear necessary for FERC or the majority of applicants to commit resources to the NEPA review process. Second, the Department explained that by suspending its practice of issuing conditional decisions and ceasing to follow the order of precedence published on December 5, 2012, DOE would better be able to ensure prompt action on applications that are otherwise ready to proceed. Third, the Department explained that the proposed procedures would improve the quality of information on which DOE bases its decisions. Finally, the Department noted that suspending its practice of issuing conditional decisions would better allocate departmental resources by reducing the likelihood that the Department would be forced to act on applications with little prospect of proceeding. II. Public Comments The Department received 74 comments in response to the Proposed Procedures Notice.4 Many of the comments expressed general support for or opposition to LNG exports or otherwise urged substantive changes to DOE’s public interest analysis. DOE officials have read and considered these comments carefully, but consider them outside the scope of the Proposed Procedures Notice, which addressed only whether DOE should suspend its current practice of issuing conditional decisions prior to completion of NEPA review. The remaining relevant comments generally fall into three groups: Comments on the rationale DOE provided for the proposed procedures, comments on the test proposed for when an application is ready for final decision, and comments on the timing of final decisionmaking once an application is ready for final action. A. Comments on the Rationale for the Proposed Procedures Public Comments: DOE’s first rationale advanced in support of the proposed procedural change was that conditional decisions no longer appear necessary for FERC or the majority of 4 The comments are available at: http:// energy.gov/fe/proposed-procedures-liquefiednatural-gas-export-decisions (Comments). E:\FR\FM\15AUN1.SGM 15AUN1 48134 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 158 / Friday, August 15, 2014 / Notices emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with NOTICES applicants to commit resources to the NEPA review process. Many commenters supported this claim. Several other commenters questioned it, however, observing that conditional decisions may have value for applicants even if they have already initiated NEPA review. Likewise, they asserted that conditional decisions may be of value to other stakeholders, such as financial parties, LNG purchasers, or foreign governments. DOE Response: DOE acknowledges that conditional decisions may hold value for some applicants and may supply useful information to third parties. Nevertheless, the justification for issuing conditional decisions before completing NEPA review is much weaker in an environment where applicants are willing to commit resources to NEPA review even without a conditional decision. In the approximately 18 months since we established the existing order of precedence, we have had an opportunity to observe industry developments, as well as the progress of numerous individual projects in the FERC-led NEPA review processes. We have seen numerous instances where applicants have proven willing to commit resources to NEPA review before having received a conditional authorization. As noted above, to date DOE has issued eight conditional authorizations (including one, Sabine Pass, which is now final) cumulatively authorizing non-FTA exports in a combined total of 10.52 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas (Bcf/d). Many of these applicants had made substantial progress in preparing resource reports for the NEPA review process before receiving their conditional authorizations. Likewise, among applicants that have not yet received a conditional decision, at least seven projects constituting 9.51 Bcf/d in requested export capacity have made considerable progress in the NEPA review process.5 These examples demonstrate that, broadly speaking, conditional decisions are no longer necessary for applicants to commit 5 See Corpus Christi Liquefaction, LLC, FERC Docket No. CP12–507; Excelerate Liquefaction Solutions (Port Lavaca I), LLC et al., FERC Docket Nos. CP14–71, 72 & 73; Southern LNG Co. LLC, FERC Docket No. CP14–103; CE FLNG, FERC Docket No. PF13–11, Golden Pass Products LLC, FERC Docket No. PF13–14; Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC and Sabine Pass LNG, L.P., FERC Docket No. CP14–12; Magnolia LNG, LLC, FERC Docket No. PF13–9. In addition to these projects that have made substantial progress, two others have recently been accepted for pre-filing at FERC. See Gulf LNG Liquefaction Company, L.L.C., FERC Docket No. PF 13–4, Louisiana Energy, LLC, FERC Docket No. PF14–17. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:31 Aug 14, 2014 Jkt 232001 substantial resources to the NEPA review process. Public Comments: The second rationale advanced in support of the proposed procedural change was that it would ensure that applications otherwise ready for DOE action will not be held back by their position in the order of precedence. Many commenters voiced support for the proposed procedures for this reason. One commenter, however, asserted that under the proposed procedures, DOE will no longer concurrently evaluate whether applications are in the public interest while these applications are undergoing NEPA review. This commenter, therefore, concluded that the proposed procedures would lengthen DOE’s review time. This commenter also asserted that it is arbitrary for DOE to require the completion of NEPA review before DOE completes its public interest review. DOE Response: DOE wishes to clarify that applicants can and should apply concurrently to DOE and to FERC or MARAD. DOE will begin the process of evaluating whether an application is in the public interest prior to completion of NEPA review, but will not issue a final decision before the NEPA review is complete. The requirement that NEPA review be completed prior to a final public interest determination is not arbitrary, but rather flows from the most fundamental requirement in NEPA: that agencies consider environmental impacts prior to deciding to undertake a major federal action. See 10 CFR 1021.210(b) (‘‘DOE shall complete its NEPA review for each DOE proposal before making a decision on the proposal.’’); see also Silentman v. Federal Power Commission, 566 F.2d 237 (D.C. Cir. 1977) (a cooperating agency must await the lead agency’s completion of its impact statement before taking final action). Public Comments: The third rationale advanced in support of the proposed procedural change was that it would improve the quality of information on which DOE bases its decisions. One reason provided for why the proposed procedures would improve the quality of information is that, by restricting its decisions to applicants that have undertaken the considerable expense of providing the engineering and design information necessary to complete NEPA review, DOE would make its decisions on a cohort of projects that are, on average, more likely to be financed and built than those that have not completed NEPA review. By focusing on projects that are more likely to proceed, DOE reasoned that it would be better positioned to evaluate the PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 cumulative impacts of its decisions on natural gas markets. One commenter rejected this reasoning, stating that applicants with the wherewithal to build LNG export facilities also have the wherewithal to complete the permitting process. DOE Response: The commenter’s observation that applicants with the wherewithal to build LNG export facilities also have the wherewithal to complete the permitting process supports rather than undermines DOE’s reasoning. DOE’s view is that LNG projects for which NEPA review is complete have already shown themselves more likely to advance to commercial operation than projects that have not yet commenced the NEPA process (or have stalled at that stage) for whatever reason. By eliminating the possibility that DOE will issue conditional decisions on applications that never complete the NEPA review process, the proposed procedures will help to focus DOE’s decisionmaking on projects that are more likely to proceed and, therefore, will benefit DOE’s ability to assess cumulative market impacts. Public Comments: DOE noted that it generally would be preferable to integrate the consideration of all public interest factors in a single, final order. Under existing procedures, DOE has focused on economic and international factors at the conditional decision stage and considered environmental factors at the final stage, once NEPA review is complete. Under the proposed procedures, DOE would evaluate all such public interest factors in one order. One commenter asserted that DOE failed to explain why it is generally preferable to integrate analysis of all public interest factors in a single order. DOE Response: DOE’s public interest determinations involve consideration of a wide range of factors. These public interest factors include economic, international, and environmental considerations that, under current practice, have been bifurcated between DOE’s conditional and final authorizations. In some instances, the bifurcation is not problematic because the issues are largely distinct. In other instances, however, there may be overlap between environmental and non-environmental issues that would be more efficiently and thoroughly resolved in a single order. For these reasons, DOE believes that it is generally preferable to consider these factors concurrently and to present them in a single analysis. Further, doing so demonstrates that each factor is given full consideration and allows DOE to communicate its decision to the public in a simpler, more comprehensible way. E:\FR\FM\15AUN1.SGM 15AUN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 158 / Friday, August 15, 2014 / Notices emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with NOTICES B. Comments on the Test for When an Application is Ready for Final Decision Public Comments: As explained above, DOE proposed that it would act on applications in the order they become ready for final decision. DOE specified that an application is ready for final decision when DOE has completed the NEPA review and when DOE has sufficient information on which to base a public interest determination. One commenter recommended that the requirement that DOE has sufficient information on which to base a public interest determination be removed. This commenter asserted that, because the Natural Gas Act creates a rebuttable presumption in favor of authorizing imports and exports, DOE lacks the power to ensure that the record in a proceeding is complete before taking final action. DOE Response: In the revised procedures, DOE will retain the requirement that it have sufficient information on which to base a public interest determination as a predicate to final action. The commenter is correct that the Natural Gas Act creates a rebuttable presumption in favor of authorizing imports and exports. But that presumption does not remove DOE’s power to impose informational requirements on applicants or to decide when it has a complete record on which to base its decision. See, e.g., 10 CFR 590.202, 590.203. Public Comments: DOE proposed that it would act on applications in the order they become ready for final decision and that an application is ready for final decision when DOE has completed the pertinent NEPA review. DOE further specified that the application will be deemed to have completed the pertinent NEPA review (1) for those projects requiring an EIS, 30 days after publication of a Final EIS, (2) for projects for which an EA has been prepared, upon publication by DOE of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), or (3) upon a determination by DOE that an application is eligible for a categorical exclusion pursuant to DOE’s regulations implementing NEPA, 10 CFR 1021.410, Appx. A & B. Commenters urged DOE to clarify that the pertinent NEPA review may be one in which DOE serves as a cooperating agency and either FERC or MARAD serves as lead agency. Relatedly, one commenter sought clarification as to whether DOE intends to issue a FONSI in cases where it adopts an EA prepared by another agency, and whether DOE may accept a categorical exclusion determination made by another agency. VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:31 Aug 14, 2014 Jkt 232001 DOE Response: The pertinent NEPA review referred to in the Proposed Procedures Notice may be one for which another agency is the lead agency and DOE is a cooperating agency, provided that DOE ultimately elects to adopt the EA or EIS produced by the lead agency. As a cooperating agency, DOE may adopt an EIS or EA prepared by another agency and need not re-publish those documents for additional comment. 40 CFR 1506.3(c). Nevertheless, even when it is participating as a cooperating agency, DOE is ultimately responsible for its own NEPA compliance. Therefore, where another agency has prepared an EA or EIS that DOE has chosen to adopt, DOE must conduct its own independent analysis and issue its own FONSI or Record of Decision, respectively. Similarly, DOE must issue its own categorical exclusion determination. A categorical exclusion determination issued by another agency may inform DOE’s decisionmaking, but DOE may only determine that a proposed action is categorically excluded from NEPA review in accordance with its own regulations. 10 CFR 1021.410, Appx. A & B. We note that DOE’s list of categorical exclusions applicable to specific agency actions includes: ‘‘approvals or disapprovals of new authorizations or amendments of existing authorizations to import or export natural gas under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act that involve minor operational changes (such as changes in natural gas throughput, transportation, and storage operations) but not new construction.’’ Id. Appx. B at B5.7. Public Comments: One commenter questioned why, for projects requiring an EIS, completion of the NEPA review process occurs 30 days after publication of the EIS rather than upon publication of the EIS. DOE Response: The CEQ regulations implementing NEPA generally prohibit agencies from making a final decision in reliance on an EIS until 30 days after publication by the Environmental Protection Agency of the notice of availability for the final EIS. 40 CFR 1506.10(b)(2). In cases where DOE is a cooperating agency in the preparation of an EIS, DOE must also adopt the final EIS before it can issue a Record of Decision. C. Comments Related to the Timing of Final Decisions Public Comments: Numerous commenters urged DOE to establish a uniform deadline by which DOE will issue final decisions after an application’s NEPA review is complete. These commenters contend that a deadline would provide greater PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 48135 regulatory certainty enabling better planning and investment decisions. DOE Response: DOE is sympathetic to this concern. Indeed, one of the overriding purposes of the procedural changes announced in this notice is to enable prompt action on applications that are ready for final decision. However, DOE has several concerns with creating a uniform deadline. First, each application contains novel issues such that a deadline that is reasonable for the majority of cases may be unreasonable in an individual case. Second, DOE lacks control over when the NEPA review for applications is complete. Were the final EIS for several applications to be completed at or around the same time, compliance with a fixed deadline may be unworkable. For these reasons, DOE declines to create a deadline for final decisions in this notice. III. Revised Procedures For the reasons provided in the Proposed Procedures Notice and in this notice, DOE will implement the procedural changes substantially as proposed. Specifically, DOE will suspend its practice of issuing conditional decisions on applications to export LNG to non-FTA countries from the lower-48 states.6 DOE will no longer act in the published order of precedence, but will act on applications in the order they become ready for final action. An application is ready for final action when DOE has completed the pertinent NEPA review process and when DOE has sufficient information on which to base a public interest determination. For purposes of determining the order in which DOE will act on applications before it, DOE will use the following criteria: (1) For those projects requiring an EIS, 30 days after publication of a Final EIS, (2) for projects for which an EA has been prepared, upon publication by DOE of a Finding of No Significant Impact, or (3) upon a determination by DOE that an application is eligible for a categorical exclusion pursuant to DOE’s 6 The revised procedures will apply only to exports from the lower-48 states. In the Proposed Procedures Notice, DOE stated that no long-term applications to export LNG from Alaska were currently pending and, therefore, DOE could not say whether there may be unique features of Alaskan projects that would warrant exercise of the DOE’s discretionary authority to issue conditional decisions. After publishing the Proposed Procedures Notice, DOE received one application to export LNG from Alaska. See Alaska LNG Project LLC, Application for Long-Term Authorization to Export Liquefied Natural Gas, Docket No. 14–96– LNG (July 18, 2014). DOE will consider whether to issue a conditional decision on that application, or any future application to export from Alaska, in the context of those proceedings. E:\FR\FM\15AUN1.SGM 15AUN1 48136 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 158 / Friday, August 15, 2014 / Notices regulations implementing NEPA, 10 CFR 1021.410, Appx. A & B. These revised procedures will not affect the continued validity of the conditional orders the Department has already issued. For those applications, the Department will proceed as explained in the conditional orders: When the NEPA review process for those projects is complete, the Department will reconsider the conditional authorization in light of the information gathered in the environmental review and take appropriate final action. Issued in Washington, DC, on August 11, 2014. Christopher A. Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Fossil Energy. [FR Doc. 2014–19364 Filed 8–14–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. DI14–3–000] emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with NOTICES Chenega Bay Utilities; Notice of Declaration of Intention and Soliciting Comments, Protests, and/or Motions To Intervene Take notice that the following application has been filed with the Commission and is available for public inspection: a. Application Type: Declaration of Intention b. Docket No: DI14–3–000 c. Date Filed: June 6, 2014 d. Applicant: Chenega Bay Utilities e. Name of Project: Chenega Hydroelectric Project f. Location: The proposed Chenega Hydroelectric Project will be located on Anderson Creek immediately downstream from the city water supply dam, near the village of Chenega Bay, Alaska, affecting T. 001S, R. 008E, S. 23 and 26, Seward Meridian. g. Filed Pursuant to: Section 23(b)(1) of the Federal Power Act, 16 USC 817(b) (2012). h. Applicant Contact: Charles Totemoff, Chenega Bay Utilities, 3000 C Street, Suite 301, Anchorage, AK 99503; telephone: (907) 277–5706, cwt@ chenegacorp.com mail to: mpdpe@ aol.com. i. FERC Contact: Any questions on this notice should be addressed to Jennifer Polardino, (202) 502–6437, or Email address: Jennifer.Polardino@ ferc.gov VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:12 Aug 14, 2014 Jkt 232001 j. Deadline for filing comments, protests, and/or motions is: 30 days from the issuance of this notice by the Commission. Comments, Motions to Intervene, and Protests may be filed electronically via the Internet. See 18 CFR 385.2001(a)(l)(iii) (2014) and the instructions on the Commission’s Web site under the ‘‘eFiling’’ link. If unable to be filed electronically, documents may be paper-filed. To paper-file, an original and eight copies should be mailed to: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. For more information on how to submit these types of filings, please go to the Commission’s Web site located at http://www.ferc.gov/filingcomments.asp. Please include the docket number (DI14–03–000) on any comments, protests, and/or motions filed. k. Description of Project: The proposed 60-kW run-of-river Chenega Hydroelectric Project will consist of: (1) An intake chamber, making use of Anderson Creek (2) a 14-inch-diameter, 1600-foot-long pipe, which will be buried a minimum of three feet under the existing roadway and will convey the water from the intake to the powerhouse; (3) a 16 feet by 20 feet powerhouse at an elevation of 64 feet above mean sea level; (4) a twin-jet Pelton turbine rated at 170 feet of net head coupled to a generator with an average inflow of 5.4 cfs; (5) a 24-inch diameter, 40-foot long culvert pipe (6) a 4.5-foot-wide by one-foot-deep stream channel excavated from the existing ground (7) a screening box and new constructed spillway; (8) and appurtenant facilities. When a Declaration of Intention is filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Federal Power Act requires the Commission to investigate and determine if the project would affect the interests of interstate or foreign commerce. The Commission also determines whether or not the project: (1) Would be located on a navigable waterway; (2) would occupy public lands or reservations of the United States; (3) would utilize surplus water or water power from a government dam; or (4) would be located on a nonnavigable stream over which Congress has Commerce Clause jurisdiction and would be constructed or enlarged after 1935. l. Locations of the Application: Copies of this filing are on file with the Commission and are available for public inspection. This filing may be viewed on the web at http://www.ferc.gov using PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the ‘‘eLibrary’’ link. Enter the Docket number excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. You may also register online at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ esubscription.asp to be notified via email of new filings and issuances related to this or other pending projects. For assistance, call 1–866–208–3676 or email FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov for TTY, call (202) 502–8659. A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction at the address in item (h) above. m. Individuals desiring to be included on the Commission’s mailing list should so indicate by writing to the Secretary of the Commission. n. Comments, Protests, or Motions to Intervene—Anyone may submit comments, a protest, or a motion to intervene in accordance with the requirements of Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.210, .211, .214. In determining the appropriate action to take, the Commission will consider all protests or other comments filed, but only those who file a motion to intervene in accordance with the Commission’s Rules may become a party to the proceeding. Any comments, protests, or motions to intervene must be received on or before the specified comment date for the particular application. o. Filing and Service of Responsive Documents—All filings must bear in all capital letters the title ‘‘COMMENTS’’, ‘‘PROTESTS’’, AND/OR ‘‘MOTIONS TO INTERVENE’’, as applicable, and the Docket Number of the particular application to which the filing refers. A copy of any Motion to Intervene must also be served upon each representative of the Applicant specified in the particular application. p. Agency Comments—Federal, state, and local agencies are invited to file comments on the described application. A copy of the application may be obtained by agencies directly from the Applicant. If an agency does not file comments within the time specified for filing comments, it will be presumed to have no comments. One copy of an agency’s comments must also be sent to the Applicant’s representatives. Dated: August 7, 2014. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2014–19302 Filed 8–14–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717–01–P E:\FR\FM\15AUN1.SGM 15AUN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 158 (Friday, August 15, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 48132-48136]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-19364]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY


Procedures for Liquefied Natural Gas Export Decisions

AGENCY: Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy.

ACTION: Final revised procedures.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) will act 
on applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the lower-48 
states to countries with which the United States does not have a free 
trade agreement requiring national treatment for natural gas only after 
completing the review required by the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA), suspending its practice of issuing conditional decisions prior 
to final authorization decisions.

DATES: Effective Date: August 15, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Anderson, U.S. Department of 
Energy, Office of Oil and Gas Global Security and Supply, Office of 
Fossil Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 3E-042, 1000 Independence 
Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586-5600; Samuel Walsh, U.S. 
Department of Energy, Office of the General Counsel, Forrestal 
Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 
586-6732.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Proposed Procedural Change

    The Department of Energy is responsible for authorizing exports of 
natural gas to foreign nations pursuant to section 3 of the Natural Gas 
Act, 15 U.S.C. 717b. For proposed exports to countries with which the 
United States lacks a free trade agreement requiring national treatment 
for trade in natural gas (non-FTA countries), the Department conducts 
an informal

[[Page 48133]]

adjudication and grants the application unless the Department finds 
that the proposed exportation will not be consistent with the public 
interest. 15 U.S.C. 717b(a). Before reaching a final decision on a non-
FTA application, the Department must also comply with the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. Typically, the 
agency responsible for permitting the export facility serves as the 
lead agency in the NEPA review process and DOE serves as a cooperating 
agency within the meaning of the Council on Environmental Quality's 
(CEQ) regulations. 40 CFR 1501.4, 1501.5. For LNG terminals located 
onshore or in state waters, the agency responsible for permitting the 
export facilities is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) 
pursuant to Section 3(e) of the Natural Gas Act. 15 U.S.C. 717b(e). For 
LNG terminals located offshore beyond state waters, the responsible 
agency is the Maritime Administration (MARAD) within the Department of 
Transportation pursuant to Section 3(9) of the Deepwater Ports Act, as 
amended by Section 312 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation 
Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-213).
    For more than 30 years, DOE's regulations governing natural gas 
imports and exports have allowed for conditional decisions, on a 
discretionary basis, before DOE completes its review process.\1\ DOE's 
regulations at 10 CFR 590.402, entitled ``Conditional orders,'' state 
that DOE may issue a conditional order at any time during a proceeding 
prior to issuance of a final opinion and order. In the past three 
years, DOE has issued eight conditional authorizations for exports of 
LNG to non-FTA countries.\2\ In each of these proceedings, DOE has made 
preliminary findings on all factors relating to the public interest 
other than environmental issues. The conditional authorization orders 
have explained that, before taking final action, DOE will reconsider 
its public interest analysis in light of the information gathered in 
the environmental review.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Dep't of Energy, Import and Export of Natural Gas; New 
Administrative Procedures; Proposed Rule, 46 FR 44696 (Sept. 4, 
1981).
    \2\ LNG Develop. Co., LLC (d/b/a Oregon LNG), DOE/FE Order No. 
3465 (July 31, 2014) [hereinafter Oregon LNG]; Jordan Cove Energy 
Project, L.P., DOE/FE Order No. 3413 (March 24, 2014); Cameron LNG, 
LLC, DOE/FE Order No. 3391 (Feb. 11, 2014); Freeport LNG Expansion, 
L.P. et al., DOE/FE Order No. 3357 (Nov. 15, 2013); Dominion Cove 
Point LNG, LP, DOE/Order No. 3331 (September 11, 2013); Lake Charles 
Exports, LLC, DOE/FE Order No. 3324 (Aug. 7, 2013); Freeport LNG 
Expansion, L.P. et al., DOE/FE Order No. 3282 (May 17, 2013); Sabine 
Pass Liquefaction, LLC, DOE/FE Order No. 2961 (May 20, 2011).
    \3\ See, e.g., Oregon LNG, DOE/FE Order No. 3465, at 138.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    DOE has acted on non-FTA LNG export applications according to the 
order of precedence posted on DOE's Web site on December 5, 2012. On 
June 4, 2014, however, DOE published a notice in the Federal Register 
proposing to suspend its practice of issuing conditional decisions 
prior to completion of the NEPA review process for LNG export 
applications from the lower-48 states. Dep't of Energy, Proposed 
Procedures for Liquefied Natural Gas Export Decisions; Notice of 
Proposed Procedures, 79 FR 32261 (Proposed Procedures Notice). DOE did 
not propose to amend 10 CFR 590.402 and, therefore, under the proposal 
would retain discretion to issue conditional decisions in the future.
    DOE explained that, under the newly proposed procedures, DOE would 
cease to act on non-FTA LNG export applications according to the 
published order of precedence. Instead, DOE would act on applications 
in the order they become ready for final action. The Proposed 
Procedures Notice stated that an application is ready for final action 
when DOE has sufficient information on which to base a public interest 
determination and when DOE has completed its NEPA review. The Proposed 
Procedures Notice further explained that, for purposes of setting the 
order in which DOE will act, an application would be deemed to have 
completed the pertinent NEPA review process as follows: (1) For those 
projects requiring an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), 30 days 
after publication of a Final EIS; (2) for projects for which an 
Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared, upon publication by 
DOE of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI); or (3) upon a 
determination by DOE that an application is eligible for a categorical 
exclusion pursuant to DOE's regulations implementing NEPA, 10 CFR 
1021.410, Appx. A & B. DOE explained that this test would apply in the 
same fashion regardless of whether FERC, MARAD, or DOE has served as 
the lead agency for preparation of the environmental review document.
    The Proposed Procedures Notice also made clear that the proposed 
procedures would not affect the continued validity of the conditional 
authorizations DOE had already issued. For those applications, DOE 
stated it would proceed as explained in the orders: By reconsidering 
the conditional authorization in light of the information gathered in 
the environmental review once that review is complete and taking 
appropriate final action.
    The Department offered four reasons for the proposed procedural 
change. See Proposed Procedures Notice at 79 FR 32263-32264. First, the 
Department explained that conditional authorizations no longer appear 
necessary for FERC or the majority of applicants to commit resources to 
the NEPA review process. Second, the Department explained that by 
suspending its practice of issuing conditional decisions and ceasing to 
follow the order of precedence published on December 5, 2012, DOE would 
better be able to ensure prompt action on applications that are 
otherwise ready to proceed. Third, the Department explained that the 
proposed procedures would improve the quality of information on which 
DOE bases its decisions. Finally, the Department noted that suspending 
its practice of issuing conditional decisions would better allocate 
departmental resources by reducing the likelihood that the Department 
would be forced to act on applications with little prospect of 
proceeding.

II. Public Comments

    The Department received 74 comments in response to the Proposed 
Procedures Notice.\4\ Many of the comments expressed general support 
for or opposition to LNG exports or otherwise urged substantive changes 
to DOE's public interest analysis. DOE officials have read and 
considered these comments carefully, but consider them outside the 
scope of the Proposed Procedures Notice, which addressed only whether 
DOE should suspend its current practice of issuing conditional 
decisions prior to completion of NEPA review.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ The comments are available at: http://energy.gov/fe/proposed-procedures-liquefied-natural-gas-export-decisions 
(Comments).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The remaining relevant comments generally fall into three groups: 
Comments on the rationale DOE provided for the proposed procedures, 
comments on the test proposed for when an application is ready for 
final decision, and comments on the timing of final decisionmaking once 
an application is ready for final action.

A. Comments on the Rationale for the Proposed Procedures

    Public Comments: DOE's first rationale advanced in support of the 
proposed procedural change was that conditional decisions no longer 
appear necessary for FERC or the majority of

[[Page 48134]]

applicants to commit resources to the NEPA review process. Many 
commenters supported this claim. Several other commenters questioned 
it, however, observing that conditional decisions may have value for 
applicants even if they have already initiated NEPA review. Likewise, 
they asserted that conditional decisions may be of value to other 
stakeholders, such as financial parties, LNG purchasers, or foreign 
governments.
    DOE Response: DOE acknowledges that conditional decisions may hold 
value for some applicants and may supply useful information to third 
parties. Nevertheless, the justification for issuing conditional 
decisions before completing NEPA review is much weaker in an 
environment where applicants are willing to commit resources to NEPA 
review even without a conditional decision. In the approximately 18 
months since we established the existing order of precedence, we have 
had an opportunity to observe industry developments, as well as the 
progress of numerous individual projects in the FERC-led NEPA review 
processes. We have seen numerous instances where applicants have proven 
willing to commit resources to NEPA review before having received a 
conditional authorization. As noted above, to date DOE has issued eight 
conditional authorizations (including one, Sabine Pass, which is now 
final) cumulatively authorizing non-FTA exports in a combined total of 
10.52 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas (Bcf/d). Many of these 
applicants had made substantial progress in preparing resource reports 
for the NEPA review process before receiving their conditional 
authorizations. Likewise, among applicants that have not yet received a 
conditional decision, at least seven projects constituting 9.51 Bcf/d 
in requested export capacity have made considerable progress in the 
NEPA review process.\5\ These examples demonstrate that, broadly 
speaking, conditional decisions are no longer necessary for applicants 
to commit substantial resources to the NEPA review process.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ See Corpus Christi Liquefaction, LLC, FERC Docket No. CP12-
507; Excelerate Liquefaction Solutions (Port Lavaca I), LLC et al., 
FERC Docket Nos. CP14-71, 72 & 73; Southern LNG Co. LLC, FERC Docket 
No. CP14-103; CE FLNG, FERC Docket No. PF13-11, Golden Pass Products 
LLC, FERC Docket No. PF13-14; Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC and 
Sabine Pass LNG, L.P., FERC Docket No. CP14-12; Magnolia LNG, LLC, 
FERC Docket No. PF13-9. In addition to these projects that have made 
substantial progress, two others have recently been accepted for 
pre-filing at FERC. See Gulf LNG Liquefaction Company, L.L.C., FERC 
Docket No. PF 13-4, Louisiana Energy, LLC, FERC Docket No. PF14-17.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Public Comments: The second rationale advanced in support of the 
proposed procedural change was that it would ensure that applications 
otherwise ready for DOE action will not be held back by their position 
in the order of precedence. Many commenters voiced support for the 
proposed procedures for this reason. One commenter, however, asserted 
that under the proposed procedures, DOE will no longer concurrently 
evaluate whether applications are in the public interest while these 
applications are undergoing NEPA review. This commenter, therefore, 
concluded that the proposed procedures would lengthen DOE's review 
time. This commenter also asserted that it is arbitrary for DOE to 
require the completion of NEPA review before DOE completes its public 
interest review.
    DOE Response: DOE wishes to clarify that applicants can and should 
apply concurrently to DOE and to FERC or MARAD. DOE will begin the 
process of evaluating whether an application is in the public interest 
prior to completion of NEPA review, but will not issue a final decision 
before the NEPA review is complete. The requirement that NEPA review be 
completed prior to a final public interest determination is not 
arbitrary, but rather flows from the most fundamental requirement in 
NEPA: that agencies consider environmental impacts prior to deciding to 
undertake a major federal action. See 10 CFR 1021.210(b) (``DOE shall 
complete its NEPA review for each DOE proposal before making a decision 
on the proposal.''); see also Silentman v. Federal Power Commission, 
566 F.2d 237 (D.C. Cir. 1977) (a cooperating agency must await the lead 
agency's completion of its impact statement before taking final 
action).
    Public Comments: The third rationale advanced in support of the 
proposed procedural change was that it would improve the quality of 
information on which DOE bases its decisions. One reason provided for 
why the proposed procedures would improve the quality of information is 
that, by restricting its decisions to applicants that have undertaken 
the considerable expense of providing the engineering and design 
information necessary to complete NEPA review, DOE would make its 
decisions on a cohort of projects that are, on average, more likely to 
be financed and built than those that have not completed NEPA review. 
By focusing on projects that are more likely to proceed, DOE reasoned 
that it would be better positioned to evaluate the cumulative impacts 
of its decisions on natural gas markets. One commenter rejected this 
reasoning, stating that applicants with the wherewithal to build LNG 
export facilities also have the wherewithal to complete the permitting 
process.
    DOE Response: The commenter's observation that applicants with the 
wherewithal to build LNG export facilities also have the wherewithal to 
complete the permitting process supports rather than undermines DOE's 
reasoning. DOE's view is that LNG projects for which NEPA review is 
complete have already shown themselves more likely to advance to 
commercial operation than projects that have not yet commenced the NEPA 
process (or have stalled at that stage) for whatever reason. By 
eliminating the possibility that DOE will issue conditional decisions 
on applications that never complete the NEPA review process, the 
proposed procedures will help to focus DOE's decisionmaking on projects 
that are more likely to proceed and, therefore, will benefit DOE's 
ability to assess cumulative market impacts.
    Public Comments: DOE noted that it generally would be preferable to 
integrate the consideration of all public interest factors in a single, 
final order. Under existing procedures, DOE has focused on economic and 
international factors at the conditional decision stage and considered 
environmental factors at the final stage, once NEPA review is complete. 
Under the proposed procedures, DOE would evaluate all such public 
interest factors in one order. One commenter asserted that DOE failed 
to explain why it is generally preferable to integrate analysis of all 
public interest factors in a single order.
    DOE Response: DOE's public interest determinations involve 
consideration of a wide range of factors. These public interest factors 
include economic, international, and environmental considerations that, 
under current practice, have been bifurcated between DOE's conditional 
and final authorizations. In some instances, the bifurcation is not 
problematic because the issues are largely distinct. In other 
instances, however, there may be overlap between environmental and non-
environmental issues that would be more efficiently and thoroughly 
resolved in a single order. For these reasons, DOE believes that it is 
generally preferable to consider these factors concurrently and to 
present them in a single analysis. Further, doing so demonstrates that 
each factor is given full consideration and allows DOE to communicate 
its decision to the public in a simpler, more comprehensible way.

[[Page 48135]]

B. Comments on the Test for When an Application is Ready for Final 
Decision

    Public Comments: As explained above, DOE proposed that it would act 
on applications in the order they become ready for final decision. DOE 
specified that an application is ready for final decision when DOE has 
completed the NEPA review and when DOE has sufficient information on 
which to base a public interest determination. One commenter 
recommended that the requirement that DOE has sufficient information on 
which to base a public interest determination be removed. This 
commenter asserted that, because the Natural Gas Act creates a 
rebuttable presumption in favor of authorizing imports and exports, DOE 
lacks the power to ensure that the record in a proceeding is complete 
before taking final action.
    DOE Response: In the revised procedures, DOE will retain the 
requirement that it have sufficient information on which to base a 
public interest determination as a predicate to final action. The 
commenter is correct that the Natural Gas Act creates a rebuttable 
presumption in favor of authorizing imports and exports. But that 
presumption does not remove DOE's power to impose informational 
requirements on applicants or to decide when it has a complete record 
on which to base its decision. See, e.g., 10 CFR 590.202, 590.203.
    Public Comments: DOE proposed that it would act on applications in 
the order they become ready for final decision and that an application 
is ready for final decision when DOE has completed the pertinent NEPA 
review. DOE further specified that the application will be deemed to 
have completed the pertinent NEPA review (1) for those projects 
requiring an EIS, 30 days after publication of a Final EIS, (2) for 
projects for which an EA has been prepared, upon publication by DOE of 
a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), or (3) upon a determination 
by DOE that an application is eligible for a categorical exclusion 
pursuant to DOE's regulations implementing NEPA, 10 CFR 1021.410, Appx. 
A & B.
    Commenters urged DOE to clarify that the pertinent NEPA review may 
be one in which DOE serves as a cooperating agency and either FERC or 
MARAD serves as lead agency. Relatedly, one commenter sought 
clarification as to whether DOE intends to issue a FONSI in cases where 
it adopts an EA prepared by another agency, and whether DOE may accept 
a categorical exclusion determination made by another agency.
    DOE Response: The pertinent NEPA review referred to in the Proposed 
Procedures Notice may be one for which another agency is the lead 
agency and DOE is a cooperating agency, provided that DOE ultimately 
elects to adopt the EA or EIS produced by the lead agency. As a 
cooperating agency, DOE may adopt an EIS or EA prepared by another 
agency and need not re-publish those documents for additional comment. 
40 CFR 1506.3(c). Nevertheless, even when it is participating as a 
cooperating agency, DOE is ultimately responsible for its own NEPA 
compliance. Therefore, where another agency has prepared an EA or EIS 
that DOE has chosen to adopt, DOE must conduct its own independent 
analysis and issue its own FONSI or Record of Decision, respectively. 
Similarly, DOE must issue its own categorical exclusion determination. 
A categorical exclusion determination issued by another agency may 
inform DOE's decisionmaking, but DOE may only determine that a proposed 
action is categorically excluded from NEPA review in accordance with 
its own regulations. 10 CFR 1021.410, Appx. A & B. We note that DOE's 
list of categorical exclusions applicable to specific agency actions 
includes: ``approvals or disapprovals of new authorizations or 
amendments of existing authorizations to import or export natural gas 
under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act that involve minor operational 
changes (such as changes in natural gas throughput, transportation, and 
storage operations) but not new construction.'' Id. Appx. B at B5.7.
    Public Comments: One commenter questioned why, for projects 
requiring an EIS, completion of the NEPA review process occurs 30 days 
after publication of the EIS rather than upon publication of the EIS.
    DOE Response: The CEQ regulations implementing NEPA generally 
prohibit agencies from making a final decision in reliance on an EIS 
until 30 days after publication by the Environmental Protection Agency 
of the notice of availability for the final EIS. 40 CFR 1506.10(b)(2). 
In cases where DOE is a cooperating agency in the preparation of an 
EIS, DOE must also adopt the final EIS before it can issue a Record of 
Decision.

C. Comments Related to the Timing of Final Decisions

    Public Comments: Numerous commenters urged DOE to establish a 
uniform deadline by which DOE will issue final decisions after an 
application's NEPA review is complete. These commenters contend that a 
deadline would provide greater regulatory certainty enabling better 
planning and investment decisions.
    DOE Response: DOE is sympathetic to this concern. Indeed, one of 
the overriding purposes of the procedural changes announced in this 
notice is to enable prompt action on applications that are ready for 
final decision. However, DOE has several concerns with creating a 
uniform deadline. First, each application contains novel issues such 
that a deadline that is reasonable for the majority of cases may be 
unreasonable in an individual case. Second, DOE lacks control over when 
the NEPA review for applications is complete. Were the final EIS for 
several applications to be completed at or around the same time, 
compliance with a fixed deadline may be unworkable. For these reasons, 
DOE declines to create a deadline for final decisions in this notice.

III. Revised Procedures

    For the reasons provided in the Proposed Procedures Notice and in 
this notice, DOE will implement the procedural changes substantially as 
proposed. Specifically, DOE will suspend its practice of issuing 
conditional decisions on applications to export LNG to non-FTA 
countries from the lower-48 states.\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ The revised procedures will apply only to exports from the 
lower-48 states. In the Proposed Procedures Notice, DOE stated that 
no long-term applications to export LNG from Alaska were currently 
pending and, therefore, DOE could not say whether there may be 
unique features of Alaskan projects that would warrant exercise of 
the DOE's discretionary authority to issue conditional decisions. 
After publishing the Proposed Procedures Notice, DOE received one 
application to export LNG from Alaska. See Alaska LNG Project LLC, 
Application for Long-Term Authorization to Export Liquefied Natural 
Gas, Docket No. 14-96-LNG (July 18, 2014). DOE will consider whether 
to issue a conditional decision on that application, or any future 
application to export from Alaska, in the context of those 
proceedings.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    DOE will no longer act in the published order of precedence, but 
will act on applications in the order they become ready for final 
action. An application is ready for final action when DOE has completed 
the pertinent NEPA review process and when DOE has sufficient 
information on which to base a public interest determination. For 
purposes of determining the order in which DOE will act on applications 
before it, DOE will use the following criteria: (1) For those projects 
requiring an EIS, 30 days after publication of a Final EIS, (2) for 
projects for which an EA has been prepared, upon publication by DOE of 
a Finding of No Significant Impact, or (3) upon a determination by DOE 
that an application is eligible for a categorical exclusion pursuant to 
DOE's

[[Page 48136]]

regulations implementing NEPA, 10 CFR 1021.410, Appx. A & B.
    These revised procedures will not affect the continued validity of 
the conditional orders the Department has already issued. For those 
applications, the Department will proceed as explained in the 
conditional orders: When the NEPA review process for those projects is 
complete, the Department will reconsider the conditional authorization 
in light of the information gathered in the environmental review and 
take appropriate final action.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on August 11, 2014.
Christopher A. Smith,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Fossil Energy.
[FR Doc. 2014-19364 Filed 8-14-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P