OPINION: Gardner Featured in Investor's Business Daily

June 25, 2014

In a column in Investor’s Business Daily, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) today outlines many of the domestic and geopolitical benefits of exporting U.S. natural gas. He explains, “Few opportunities come along to simultaneously enhance America's standing in the world, fight back against energy-rich bullies and boost a weak domestic economy.” The House of Representatives will vote today on Gardner’s bill to realize these benefits. H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, will speed up DOE’s approval of exports so we can start creating more jobs at home and helping our allies abroad. To learn more about H.R. 6 and the committee’s work on LNG exports, click HERE

06/25/14
     Natural Gas Exports Will Boost Our Economy, Aid Our Allies
By Rep. Cory Gardner

Over the last several months, Russia has nearly doubled the price it charges Ukraine for natural gas, and President Vladimir Putin is now threatening to shut off further supplies, which would impact all of Europe.

This is not the first time Russia has used energy as a weapon, and it certainly won't be the last. Which is one reason I introduced H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, to increase exports of U.S. natural gas.

This important legislation would help not just Ukraine but many of our allies and trading partners all over the world. It would reduce the influence of troublesome natural gas exporters like Russia and Iran. And most importantly, it would provide jobs and economic growth here at home.

U.S. LNG exports can be both a foreign policy and economic policy success story, and come at a time when the nation could use a lot more of both.

Congress has held multiple hearings on LNG exports, and many of the misconceptions about them have been dispelled.

Most common is the claim that congressional action won't have an immediate impact. But representatives of Hungary, Lithuania and the Czech Republic — three of the 12 nations dependent on Russia for more than half of their gas — told us that the very signal America is serious about entering the global market would instantly reduce Russia's leverage.

Anita Orban, Hungary's ambassador-at-large for energy security, said allowing more exports "would send an extremely important message of strategic reassurance to the region which currently feels more threatened than any time since the Cold War."

H.R. 6 would send a powerful signal the moment it is enacted, and the benefits would only grow in the years ahead as the LNG exports start to flow.

While Eastern Europe is on everyone's mind right now, American natural gas exports will also find markets elsewhere.

Many of our energy-dependent Asian allies, such as Japan, Singapore and South Korea, told Congress they would prefer U.S. LNG over supplies from Russia and the equally-unreliable Middle East.

Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, Singapore's ambassador to the U.S., said "increased LNG exports to Asia would further anchor the U.S. economic presence and further contribute to enhancing the region's energy security."

Several developing countries see U.S. gas as a more affordable source of electricity.  According to Rene Jean-Jumeau, Haiti's minister delegate to the prime minister, U.S. LNG would lead to "a reduction in the cost of electricity by at least 30%." He considers American natural gas as a means to transition "from an aid-based relationship to a trade-based relationship."

Indeed, LNG exports to developing nations would help accomplish many of the same economic goals for which direct aid is intended.

While the geopolitical benefits of LNG exports are quite substantial, they are really just icing on the cake. First and foremost, my bill would create jobs and bring billions of dollars in revenues into the U.S. economy.

Some have asserted that the extra demand from exports would cause a significant increase in domestic natural gas prices. But a study conducted for the Department of Energy concludes that America has ample natural gas reserves, and additional demand can be met by raising production.

In my home state of Colorado, we are ready to ramp up natural gas output to meet increased demand, and the opportunity to do so would create more jobs.

These new energy industry jobs, along with those constructing the LNG export facilities, could not come at a better time for the economy. David Montgomery, economist with NERA Consulting and lead author of the DOE study, testified that LNG exports would take upward of 45,000 workers off the unemployment rolls over the next four years.

Despite the upside — and the urgency — of natural gas exports, the majority of LNG export applications are languishing in a long line at DOE. The approval process is almost as convoluted as the one the Obama administration has used to hold up the Keystone XL oil pipeline for over five years. H.R. 6 would break the logjam and expedite export approvals.

Few opportunities come along to simultaneously enhance America's standing in the world, fight back against energy-rich bullies and boost a weak domestic economy. The unfolding situation in Ukraine further strengthens what already is a powerful case for increased U.S. LNG exports.

Gardner is a Republican from Colorado who serves on the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Read the article online HERE.

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