WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) - Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell called on federal regulators to kill new requirements to consider the greenhouse gas emissions of natural gas pipelines before approving construction, saying the rule hinders gas exports to Europe at time that European allies need it most.
The Senate's top Republican wants the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to rescind rules it just issued in February that require pipeline project reviews to weigh the direct and indirect impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and consider their impact on vulnerable communities that live near proposed construction.
Pipeline companies including Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI.N) and Boardwalk Pipeline have asked FERC not to apply the new review to pending projects. Environmental groups have urged President Joe Biden's administration not to abandon plans combat climate change in light of energy supply disruptions due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Erecting new roadblocks to affordable, abundant energy makes no sense, particularly in this tenuous time," McConnell wrote in a letter to FERC's Democratic Chairman Richard Glick.
Biden and his European counterparts are set to announce plans to direct shipments of liquefied natural gas to Europe as the continent grapples with rapidly weaning itself off of Russian natural gas.
In recent weeks, U.S. lawmakers and energy industry trade groups had called on the Biden administration to ramp up natural gas and oil exports to Europe.
White House efforts to boost U.S. LNG exports were proceeding slowly, however, because of concerns about the impact on climate change of projects that could last decades, government and industry sources said this month.
Last week, the Energy Department said it was "committed to finding ways to help our allies and trading partners with the energy supplies they need while continuing to work to mitigate the impact of climate change."
McConnell said FERC should focus on streamlining and expediting permitting and review.
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