Udall pushes natural gas exports measure amid Ukraine crisis

Sen. Mark UdallMark UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (D-Colo.) is making the case for expanding U.S. exports of natural gas as the crisis in Ukraine unfolds.

Udal, who faces reelection this year, introduced legislation late Wednesday evening calling for the U.S. to strengthen strategic partnerships with allies through the expedited approval of natural gas.

"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."

"This common-sense bill will strengthen our economy at home and help Colorado companies and small businesses across America bolster our presence abroad," he added.

The American Job Creation and Strategic Alliances LNG Act would amend a provision of the Natural Gas Act to allow for approval of natural gas to World Trade Organization member countries. Ukraine and surrounding countries make the cut.

Republican lawmakers have urged Obama this week to up the amount of exports to the region as Russia's natural gas-export monopoly OAO Gazprom threatened to end its agreement from last year to supply Ukraine with cheaper natural gas.

More than half of Russia's gas exports to the European Union flow through a network of pipelines in Ukraine, putting the region's energy security at risk with any disruption in the gas supply.