House votes to speed up exports of natural gas

The House on Wednesday passed a bill to expedite applications of liquefied natural gas exports.

Passage of the bill, 266-150, could boost the measure's sponsor, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), in challenging Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) for his Senate seat this year.

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Udall introduced similar legislation in the Senate earlier this year. Last week, Udall revised his bill to reduce the timeline for DOE to approve liquefied natural gas (LNG) applications from 90 days to 45 days. 

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is working to set a vote on Udall's bill.

Gardner's bill would expedite liquefied natural gas exports to non-Free Trade Agreement countries such as Ukraine by requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to decide on applications within 30 days after an environmental review of the LNG facilities.

While the Department of Energy recently issued new guidelines for its approval process of export facilities in the U.S., Republicans said more needs to be done.

"The economic impacts alone make natural gas exports a winning policy, but the geopolitical impacts are an incredible benefit as well and have been ignored for far too long. Allies around the world have told us that they would greatly benefit from American LNG," Gardner said.

"It is time to help our friends abroad. It is time to create jobs here at home," Gardner added.

The administration has defended its process for approving applications, and noted that even if applications are processed faster the majority natural gas export facilities in the U.S. won't be ready to ship the product overseas until 2018. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said that speeding up the review process would not necessarily expedite the necessary construction for the projects.

"Rushing the DOE review is not going to speed up the construction of these projects. We need the construction of the infrastructure for the export of natural gas," Waxman said.

Once DOE is done with its environmental review, the bill would give the department 30 days to then approve the export facility, deeming it in the public's best interest.

Calls for more liquefied natural gas exports increased in Congress following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Ukraine receives over half of its natural gas supply from Russia, and roughly 16 percent of Europe's natural gas is transported through Ukraine by pipeline. 

 

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