Federal Permitting and Oversight of Export of Fossil Fuels [January 7, 2014]   [open pdf - 280KB]

From the Summary: "Recent technological developments have led to an increase in the domestic supply of natural gas. As a result, there is interest among some parties in exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to take advantage of international markets. This has placed new attention on the laws and regulations governing the export of natural gas as well as other fossil fuels. In most cases, export of fossil fuels requires federal authorization of both the act of exporting the fuel and the facility that will be employed to export the fuel. For example, the export of natural gas is permitted by the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, while the construction and operation of the export facility must be authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Oil exports are generally forbidden, but an export that falls under one of several exemptions to the ban can be authorized by the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security, while oil pipelines that cross international borders must be permitted by the State Department. […] Article XX of the GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] provides additional exceptions that a member country may invoke if it is found to be in violation of any GATT obligations. For example, WTO [World Trade Organization] Members may maintain an otherwise GATT inconsistent measure if it is necessary to protect an exhaustible natural resource or necessary to protect human health or the environment. Article XIII requires that if an otherwise GATT inconsistent measure is permitted to remain in force due to an Article XX exception, the measure must be administered in a non-discriminatory manner. Export restrictions that treat WTO Members differently would appear not to satisfy the non-discriminatory requirements of Article XIII."

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CRS Report for Congress, R43231
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