Senate bill increases natural gas exports to US allies

Republican senators introduced legislation Thursday that would allow the U.S. export of natural gas to European allies.

Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced the North Atlantic Energy Security Act. 

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They said their bill would cut “bureaucratic red tape” to allow U.S. companies to export natural gas to U.S. allies and approve pending permits of those that want to liquefy the natural gas so that it is more easily transported abroad.

“We need to deploy a long-term strategy when it comes to helping our allies,” Hoeven said on the Senate floor Thursday. “We produce 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas a year, but we only consume 26 trillion. ... We need markets.”

Hoeven said some companies have been waiting for more than a year for approval to process the natural gas and export it, but that the administration has delayed their applications.

McCain said European reliance on Russia for natural gas has created global problems that the United States can help solve.

“Americans understand that we need to do what we can to help our European friends to become independent of Vladimir Putin’s energy,” McCain said. “If we could export energy to these countries it could literally change the world.”

Europe is heavily reliant on Russia for natural gas, but Hoeven said that within just three years, the United States could start supplying its allies. He said his state alone burns off more than $1 million worth of natural gas because it cannot be captured and exported due to government regulations.

Some Democrats have expressed concerns about rushing into exporting natural gas because it could increase domestic prices.