Closed Coastal Military Bases Possibility for LNG Terminals

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the panel has already begun to consider the five energy proposals advanced by President Bush on Wednesday, as well as some novel initiatives.

Domenici reported that the committee has been working on bipartisan language in the natural gas title of the energy bill that would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission exclusive authority over the siting, construction, expansion and operation of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, a position that Bush advocated in a major energy policy speech to small business leaders this week (see Daily GPI, April 28).

But in a departure from the president's ideas, Domenici said the committee has been considering locating LNG import terminals on closed coastal military installations. Bush called for the construction of new oil refinery capacity at closed military bases.

The committee "was not at the point where it was looking at specific military installations" to site LNG facilities, said Marnie Funk, spokeswoman for Domenici. The federal government has closed nearly 100 major military bases since 1988, including bases in the coastal states of California, Texas, New York, Florida, Maryland and Virginia. The Defense Department is expected to announce more base closings in May.

The chairman reported he met Wednesday with committee Republicans and will meet with them again this week to discuss the president's energy proposals. He also said he has been meeting individually with committee Democrats.

Committee members have discussed reducing the uncertainty in the licensing of nuclear plants, as was also proposed by Bush. The president called for the Department of Energy to work on changes to existing law to reduce uncertainty in the nuclear plant licensing process and to also provide federal risk insurance to protect companies building the first four new nuclear plants against delays that are beyond their control.

The committee had not previously considered the president's proposals to expand the tax credits for hybrid vehicles to include clean diesel vehicles, and to locate refineries on closed military bases, Domenici said. Instead, the panel "has been considering siting LNG facilities on closed coastal military installations."

The president's five energy proposals "would make a real difference in our energy supply and our environment," Domenici said. "We have begun committee consideration of some of these proposals. I will promptly discuss with my colleagues other ideas we hadn't thought of before."

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