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The culprit: major new domestic gas supplies obtained from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale formations.With his back to the wall, Cheniere’s energetic chief executive, Charif Souki, opted to switch from importing LNG to exporting it.The DOE had processed Cheniere’s application in nine months.Freeport’s, filed in December 2010, took 30 months.That includes Japan, India, China, Korea and most of Europe — the LNG markets that really matter.Permits to export to free-trade countries like Canada and Mexico are automatically granted and therefore far less valuable.Federal energy regulators have awarded the company a combination of federal permits — so far withheld from all 20 competitors seeking similar treatment — that have worked like sprinkled pixie dust, attracting major customers and investors to Cheniere and giving wing to its stock.There’s no evidence any of the four acted illegally or improperly for the Houston-based energy company.
Today it’s the undisputed leader in the nation’s promising new energy sector: exporting liquefied natural gas, or LNG.
Bechtel signed a .9 billion construction agreement, and the Blackstone Group stepped up with a billion lead investment — a good start toward the more than .6 billion needed for the first construction phase.
Cheniere also needed a site permit from FERC, the lead environmental regulator for LNG terminals.
That green light arrived like clockwork in April 2012 and allowed the company to avoid risky and costly delay.
In order to bestow that accommodation, FERC had to reject arguments by the Sierra Club and others who demanded a full environmental impact statement, or EIS, on the project.
Two weeks before the DOE granted Cheniere its crucial LNG export license, DOE Secretary Steven Chu picked Deutch to chair a new advisory panel to study fracking’s role in the shale gas boom and to recommend ways to frack more safely and cleanly.