Following upheaval in Ukraine, Russian President Putin moved swiftly to exert power, laying claim to Crimea, a formerly Soviet territory that has existed as part of an independent Ukraine for nearly 20 years.
Now, President Putin and the Russian Regime are using their supply of natural gas to flex their muscles and exert even more power throughout the region.
As the second largest producer of natural gas on the planet, Russia is the dominant provider of that product to European countries. The recent political turmoil in the region is generating fears in Europe that President Putin may use his control of natural gas supplies to increase his power and spread Russian influence.
As European countries face the possibility of President Putin putting a political squeeze on their energy supplies, they are racing to diversify their sources of natural gas. They are turning to the largest producer of natural gas on earth: the United States of America, the world’s energy superpower.
But right now, the U.S. is turning its back on our allies because of outdated rules restricting the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to certain countries. As American allies clamor for this vital resource, we sit with our hands tied—unable to provide our friends abroad access to an abundant national resource.
Currently, American companies may export LNG to countries with which we have an existing free trade agreement. However, to export to countries outside of these agreements, American companies must go through a rigorous application process from the U.S. Department of Energy that has been met with unnecessary delays.
That’s why I introduced H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act. This bill would allow American companies to export to countries within the World Trade Organization like Ukraine – who is at the mercy of Russian supply – without delay.
The existing framework is time-consuming, expensive, and putting our national security interests at risk. These outdated rules are not just hurting our allies abroad, they’re also hindering economic growth and job creation right here in Colorado.
Colorado is rich with natural gas, and extraction of this resource using responsible hydraulic fracturing—sometimes referred to as “fracking”—has been an unqualified success story for our state. It has created thousands of good-paying jobs and helped boost local economies amid a global recession.
The House of Representatives is acting quickly to ease these antiquated LNG restrictions. My legislation recently passed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee with bipartisan support.
Opening up our natural gas market will prevent Russia from using its resources to expand its own power and influence in a region that is critically important to the United States. It will help meet the demand abroad using clean natural gas extracted through an environmentally sound process here in Colorado.
The Cold War may be over, but the events unfolding in Ukraine should serve as a stark reminder that America’s interests are a target to international actors. We must have the freedom to protect these interests by ensuring our allies are not crippled by the political ploys of a Russian energy monopoly.