Week ahead: Lawmakers dig deeper on gas exports

Lawmakers are taking a deep dive next week into the implications of increasing exports of natural gas.

The week will see three hearings on the exports issue, which has moved to the center of the political debate thanks to the crisis in Ukraine.
 

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Republicans and a few Democrats are pushing liquefied natural gas exports to try and weaken the influence of Russia, which now provides the majority of Eastern Europe’s supplies.

“The U.S. has a responsibility to stand up for freedom and democracy around the globe, and we have a responsibility to stand with the people of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. “One immediate step the president can and should take is to dramatically expedite the approval of U.S. exports of natural gas.”
 
The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Power will consider a bill Tuesday from Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) that would force the Energy Department to approve all pending applications for licenses to export liquefied natural gas. Gardner is pushing the bill against the backdrop of his bid to unseat Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) this year.
 
The hearing will include witness from Hungary and NERA Economic Consulting, along with the former chairman of the appellate body of the World Trade Organization.
 
Also Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing about exporting natural gas. Led by Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the hearing will examine the implications for growth in manufacturing and jobs, as well as for U.S. influence abroad, if natural gas exports are increased.
 
Lithuania will send a witness to Landrieu’s hearing. Other witnesses are coming from the Energy Information Administration, NERA Economic Consulting, the Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
 
Rounding out the trio of hearings, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs will discuss Wednesday how natural gas exports could reduce the influence of Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
 
“Exporting U.S. energy not only benefits our national security, it also boosts the U.S. economy and creates American jobs,” Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in a statement.
 
Four witnesses will speak at the hearing, representing Securing America’s Future Energy, the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, the Center for a New American Security and the Council on Foreign Relations.

President Obama’s 2015 budget request will also get some attention from lawmakers next week.
 
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing Wednesday about the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget for fiscal 2015.
 
Subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee will also meet about Obama’s budget.
 
A Tuesday hearing will focus on the applied energy programs in the Energy Department. Later that day, appropriators will hold a separate hearing on Energy’s Office of Science.
 
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will speak about her agency’s budget the same day.
 
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will testify Thursday about her agency’s budget request.
 
Also on Thursday, Cheryl LaFleur, acting chairwoman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will speak at a luncheon organized by the Natural Gas Roundtable. The group is a nonprofit started by the American Gas Association that organizes monthly luncheon events.