DOE Eliminates Environmental Assessment of Natural Gas Exports

On December 4, 2020, the Department of Energy (DOE) revised its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations to categorically exclude "[a]pprovals or disapprovals of new authorizations or amendments of existing authorizations to export natural gas . . . and any associated transportation of natural gas by marine vessel" from the environmental assessment requirement. Under the Natural Gas Act, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the authority to approve the construction and operation of natural gas pipelines and export facilities, but only DOE can approve natural gas exports. By categorically excluding natural gas exports from NEPA review, the revision could limit the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the overall natural gas export process.