Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the exclusive authority to approve or deny an application for the siting, construction, expansion, or operation of an LNG terminal per the Natural Gas Act. The FERC is the lead federal agency that will determine whether Cheniere will be issued an Order Granting Authority under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act for the construction an LNG project. The FERC will also monitor all construction and restoration activities to insure that Cheniere complies with all federal, state, and local permits, plans, and regulations.
The Sabine Pass Liquefaction Project received a FERC order granting authorization to commence construction on the first four LNG trains on April 16, 2012, under Docket No. CP11-72-000. The discussion below describes the process undertaken.
The Approval Process
The initial step in the process was to request from FERC to engage in the Pre-Filing Environmental Review Process. The pre-filing process provides opportunities for federal and state cooperating agencies (LDEQ, USACE, USFWS, etc.), and other public stakeholders to comment on the project impacts prior to an application to the FERC being submitted. When permission was granted to begin the pre-filing process Cheniere will then prepare the draft resource reports.
The next step was for the company to submit the draft Resource Reports for submittal to the FERC staff to aid their preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to fulfill the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The purpose of the EA/EIS is to inform the public and the permitting agencies about the potential adverse and/or beneficial environmental and safety impacts of proposed projects and their alternatives.
The Resource Reports are divided into the following subjects:
- General project description
- Water use and quality
- Fish, wildlife, and vegetation
- Cultural resources
- Geological resources
- Land use, recreation, and aesthetics
- Air and noise quality
- Reliability and safety
- PCB contamination (not required for this project)
- Engineering and design material
The stakeholders were given the opportunity to comment on the resource reports through public meetings and postings. Any issues identified were addressed prior to final environmental documents and approvals being issued. The schematic illustrates the steps involved, and the points where the public was given the opportunity to comment on the pre-filing process.
Upon FERC approval of the project, Cheniere received:
- A Commission Order stating its decision on whether to approve construction and operation of the LNG terminal;
- Market rate authority; and
- Conditions that must be met prior to construction.
Additional environmental permits and clearances that were applied for:
- Section 401 water quality certificate from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality;
- Section 404 permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers for work in wetlands;
- Coastal Zone Management clearance from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources;
- Federal Endangered Species Clearance from the US Fish and Wildlife Service;
- State Endangered Species Clearance from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries;
- Air Emissions Permit (Title V & PSD) from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality;
- Section 106 National Historic Preservation Act Clearance from the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism – received;
- Authorization to export from the Department of Energy.
Design and Construction Monitoring
FERC authorized the commencement of construction once the project met all pre-construction conditions required by the FERC Order, and then authorized the commencement of construction.
Prior to commencement of service from the LNG facility, Cheniere received written approval from FERC. Only after complying with all pre-operation conditions listed in the Commission Order does a company receive authorization to begin operation.
An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land? The FERC wants you to know:
- How FERC’s procedures work;
- What rights citizens have;
- How the location of a pipeline or other facilities is decided; and
- What safety and environmental issues might be involved?
Please read the FERC's Citizen Guide where you will find all this information and more to help you know what you need to know. You may also find other useful information concerning natural gas pipelines on the FERC’s webpage at: http://www.ferc.gov/