LNG Developer NextDecade Blasts Inaction by US Energy Regulator

(Reuters) — U.S. LNG developer NextDecade Corp. on Monday criticized regulator the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for what it called "inexcusable" delays in reviewing information that would allow it to move ahead with a $15.7 billion export project.

NextDecade's Rio Grande LNG project has been stalled by a federal appeals court ruling that the original approval failed to adequately consider the Brownsville, Texas, plant's impact on climate change or on area minority and low-income residents.

The court asked FERC to revisit its environmental review but did not invalidate the original approval.

"It is patently clear that an ongoing, 18-month process to address two questions remanded to the Commission is inexcusable," NextDecade's CEO, Matthew Schatzman, wrote in a letter.

He called on FERC Chairman Willie Phillips to put the project on the commission's meeting agenda this month. The inaction "far exceeds the length of time FERC has taken to respond to other federal appellate court remands," wrote Schatzman.

A FERC spokesperson declined to comment on matters before the commission.

NextDecade did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the letter or whether the delay would affect its plan to soon begin major expenditures.

The company has said it expects to move ahead with financial approval for the first phase of the about $15.7 billion project this quarter after signing customer agreements for about 70% of the initial capacity.

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