Despite this rapid capacity expansion, regulatory roadblocks are hampering the construction of even more terminals. The permit process for LNG facilities is outdated. Getting a permit takes several years and requires approvals from multiple federal and state agencies. Unless and until Congress passes legislation to expedite the process, the United States will find itself at a competitive disadvantage with other LNG exporters, such as Australia, Malaysia, Qatar, and Russia.
The window of opportunity for ramping up U.S. LNG exports is narrow. The window is open now because the cost of transportation to Asia has dropped and Asian LNG prices are at their lowest levels in more than a decade. As is true here at home, market forces are encouraging China to substitute LNG for coal. If we fiddle while other LNG-exporting countries move aggressively, we will wind up paying the price of neglect in lost revenue and jobs.
Clearing the path to the world’s fastest-growing market for LNG would show that the United States is committed to its role as a global energy leader. Geopolitically, U.S. LNG exports would help diversify world energy supplies and enhance global energy security. Environmentally, selling U.S. LNG to China would make the air cleaner there, as the shift from coal to natural gas has done here.
It's not regulations holding up LNG permitting, it's the market. There are reasons the next wave of export capacity is scheduled to come on line early in the next decade. It will take that long for global demand to build and make new LNG capacity profitable. What is needed is help for countries that would like to import our LNG but need to build re-gasification and distribution facilities. Without that infrastructure there will be no export to those countries. The most encouraging trend that appears to be gaining traction is re-gasification facilities on a ship. You build it in the states and moor it where the end users have constructed their pipeline network. The ship board re-gasification can be scaled to suit a specific size market.