Gardner Bill to Expedite LNG Exports Heard on Hill

March 25, 2014
By

Rep. Cory Gardner

Rep. Cory Gardner

WASHINGTON — Legislation authored by Rep. Cory Gardner to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and expedite exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to U.S. allies including Ukraine will be considered Tuesday by a House panel on energy.

The Colorado Republican and other House supporters have been working since October to persuade the Obama administration to approve the backlog of 23 applications that have stalled in the Energy Department.

Russia’s increased aggression against Ukraine has fueled a surge of support among lawmakers here to take action against the former Communist regime. Sending a signal to Russia that the U.S. intends to increase supply of the affordable fuel on the world market would ease that region’s reliance on Russia, say the bill’s supporters.

President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia including a travel ban and asset freezes on numerous Russian officials and a Russian bank after President Vladimir Putin moved on Crimea.

“It is going to take more than sanctions to stand up to Putin, and taking action on exports would weaken his grip by sending a clear signal to our allies that they no longer have to be at the mercy of Russian energy supplies,” Gardner said in a statement.

“This legislation will provide a safe and secure energy source abroad while delivering economic growth and job creation here at home,” said Gardner.

The hearing by the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy and power is the first step for Gardner’s Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act before it can move to the House floor.

On Monday, Obama and other leaders of the world’s largest economies known as the G-8, became the G-7 after agreeing to exclude Russia if Putin pushes farther into Ukraine and vowed to exert sanctions on Russia’s energy industries.

If the U.S. is going to stand firm in unwavering support for Ukraine, Gardner said that should include unlocking natural gas supplies in the U.S. to help free Ukraine and other European nations from Russia’s influence.

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall pledged his support for increased exportation of LNG and on March 5 introduced legislation similar to Gardner’s that would eventually expand U.S. energy development and the overseas market to  World Trade Organization countries that include Ukraine, Japan and India.

“Colorado and our nation’s clean-burning and job-creating natural gas has an important role to play in strengthening global security,” Udall said in a statement.

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine — and Russia’s threat to use its natural gas exports as a cudgel there — shows why we need to responsibly develop our natural gas reserves and expand our ability to export this resource abroad,” Udall said.

However, leading activists in Udall’s core environmental base are opposed to the exportation of natural gas and in particular to the construction of an LNG terminal in Maryland.

In a letter to the White House last week, 16 environmental groups urged Obama to oppose increased exportation saying it would lead to more hydraulic fracturing and global warming.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, told the Wall Street Journal that their opposition is not based on the situation in Crimea, but in part because most exports would go to Asia where prices are higher.

“The idea that U.S. gas exports could address the human rights abuses that we’re seeing in Crimea reflects a lack of comprehension and lack of vision,” Brune said.

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, told The Hill that supporting natural gas would be politically detrimental to the president and the Democratic Party.

“Everybody’s watching now, this kind of stuff. And Democratic politicians who thought they might get by with a wink and a nod aren’t,” McKibben said. “Fracking’s become a dirty word, for good reason.”

Meanwhile, the Senate on Monday voted 78-17 to begin consideration of sending financial aid to Ukraine that includes $100 million to promote democracy and $1 billion in U.S.-backed loans. Udall and Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet voted in favor of the foreign aid.

Udall is up for reelection in November and is likely to face Gardner, a strong contender for the Republican nomination.

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2 Responses to Gardner Bill to Expedite LNG Exports Heard on Hill

  1. Brian McFarlane
    March 25, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Hmm, add to the supply of natural gas in Asia and eventually in Europe/Eastern Europe as opposed to selling them possibly more coal? Which would be better?
    And enviros will continue to pretend that solar and wind power is replacing “fossil fuels”… so far solar and wind supplies about 2% of US energy and is becoming much less popular in Europe. The last 2 years… Germany was by far the single largest solar market on the globe between 2009 and 2012, data from German regulators shows that the number of solar installations in December 2012 was down 88% from the previous year. The German government has aggressively been cutting subsidies because it has cost far more than they expected.

    Opening the LNG market more is good for all involved. Maybe in the next few decades there will be cleaner, more efficient energy created/available but for now the most efficient way to provide energy (other than nuclear) is from fossil fuels.

  2. PeterP
    March 25, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    All of a sudden Mark Udall is a dirty fracker. What a cowardly unprincipled two faced pol. He spends his entire career fighting “dirty” energy and forcing our utility rates to soar by subsidizing Chinese wind and solar power. He calls Gardner a “radical” in his first dirty ad while copying his legislation and calling himself a free market moderate. This guy is political scum. He is totally unprincipled and deserves to lose the Senate seat he lies to cling to. How could any self respecting liberal vote for this frack-loving phony. Don’t be fooled by this ploy Colorado, look at his record not his rhetoric. How low can you go, Mark? Just watch!

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