Coalition Grows in Support of LNG Exports to Counter Russian Influence – H.R. 6 Would Expedite Application Backlog at DOE

March 7, 2014

 

New York Times Editorial Board and House Speaker Agree: U.S. Should Act on LNG Exports and Stand Up To Putin

The New York Times today was the latest major daily newspaper editorial board to add its voice to the calls for increasing U.S. natural gas exports to undermine Russia’s influence. The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post weighed in yesterday, arguing America’s natural gas boom could help weaken Russia’s leverage and help our allies in Eastern Europe and across the globe. House Speaker John Boehner also urged action on natural gas exports today, writing in the Wall Street Journal, “The ability to turn the tables and put the Russian leader in check lies right beneath our feet, in the form of vast supplies of natural energy.”

The New York Times’ editors highlighted DOE’s slow export approval process, and suggested the administration and Congress could help expedite exports by speeding up application reviews and easing restrictions on exports to American allies. Yesterday, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and other members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced legislation to do just that. H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, would grant approval of complete export applications currently filed at the Department of Energy without delay, and modify the process moving forward to ensure that exports to our allies are not subject to unnecessary delays. Speaker Boehner concluded, “America not only has a right to develop and market its natural resources. In the face of rising danger, it has an obligation to do so.”

 

March 7, 2014

EDITORIAL: Natural Gas as a Diplomatic Tool

In response to the crisis in Ukraine, some American lawmakers and energy companies are urging the United States to export natural gas to Europe in an effort to undercut Russia’s influence over the Continent. The Obama administration should move to increase exports, which would help allies like Germany, Turkey and Britain, but the effects of such exports would likely be modest and wouldn’t be realized for several years.

The discovery and exploitation of shale gas has swelled American reserves of natural gas and sharply driven down its price, making it possible for Washington to contemplate lifting restrictions on exports. The United States imported 16 percent of the gas it used as recently as 2007, but it could become a net exporter of the fuel by 2020, cording to the Energy Information Administration.

Increasing natural gas exports could serve American foreign-policy interests in Europe, which gets about 30 percent of its gas from Russia. Countries like Germany and Ukraine are particularly vulnerable to supply disruptions that are politically driven.

This week, for example, Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom said it would no longer sell gas at a discounted price to Ukraine, which gets 60 percent of its natural gas supply from Russia. This is hardly the first time President Vladimir Putin has used Russian gas supplies to pressure other nations.

Under American law, energy companies can freely export gas to Canada, Mexico and other countries with which the United States has a free-trade agreement. That does not include Washington’s allies in Europe. The Energy Department can approve exports to other nations if it determines such sales are in the public interest. The department has approved only six out of 21 applications for such exports, the first of which should begin next year.

The department could speed up its review of export applications, and Congress could help by easing restrictions on exports to American allies. …

To read the full article online, click HERE.

 

March 7, 2014

SPEAKER BOEHNER: Counter Putin by Liberating U.S. Natural Gas

The de facto ban on exports should have been stopped long ago. Now world events demand it.

Russia has been playing a much more intricate game than the United States in recent years. The resulting imbalance has created a growing threat to global stability, as evidenced last week by Vladimir Putin's invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The ability to turn the tables and put the Russian leader in check lies right beneath our feet, in the form of vast supplies of natural energy. …

The U.S. has abundant supplies of natural gas, but in stark contrast to Russia, the amount of natural gas we produce and export barely scratches the surface of its potential. That's attributable in large part to the U.S. Department of Energy, which maintains an approval process that is excruciatingly slow and amounts to a de facto ban on American natural-gas exports—a situation that Mr. Putin has happily exploited to finance his geopolitical goals.

According to the Energy Department's own website, only six applications for U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) have been approved over the past three years, while 24 applications are pending. This means Washington is doing as little as possible in an area in which we should be doing the opposite. Consequently, our allies in Europe and elsewhere have little choice but to turn to Russia for their energy needs.

These policies have amounted to our nation imposing economic sanctions on itself—sentencing consumers in the U.S. and abroad to higher prices and slower growth while ceding the international energy marketplace to countries such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran.

In response to Mr. Putin's aggression in Ukraine, President Obama should announce a series of steps that will dramatically expand production of American-made energy, beginning with lifting this de facto ban on exports of U.S.-produced liquefied natural gas. Taking this step would also create American jobs and lower prices for our consumers and small businesses when coupled with other moves that would bolster energy production in North America. These include construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ending the Obama administration's embargo on our supplies of oil and gas from federal lands and waters, and halting the effort to take coal out of America's electricity generation mix. …

To read the full article online, click HERE