Udall to introduce natural gas bill that mirrors Gardner’s

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said late Thursday that he is replacing his proposal to expedite liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports with a bill sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is challenging Udall for his seat.

“Colorado’s natural gas resources have a central role to play in creating jobs and promoting global stability,” Udall said in a statement. “This effort to expedite natural gas exports to our allies and trading partners abroad is far too important to get bogged down over technical differences between the two chambers.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed Gardner’s bill Wednesday. When he first proposed the measure, it sought to force the Department of Energy (DOE) to quickly approve all LNG export applications for countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO). But the bill that passed the committee was watered down and instead set a timeline for DOE to consider applications.

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Udall’s bill similarly would have opened LNG exports to WTO countries.

Energy has become a major focus of Colorado’s Senate campaign, due to the state’s position as the fourth-largest natural gas producer in the country.

Both congressmen introduced their measures for the dual purposes of showing their commitment to one of Colorado’s major industries in an election year and helping U.S. allies that have trouble getting natural gas.

Ukraine and many other European countries are dependent on Russia for gas, an increasingly risky source in recent months as Russia has become increasingly aggressive toward its neighbors.

Udall said the bill the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed “has the same goals” as his earlier proposal. He said he would introduce the bill as an amendment to the Senate’s energy efficiency legislation that leaders plan to vote on next week.

Hours before announcing his new tactic, Udall told reporters that he wanted his bill to be bipartisan. Though he said he was not familiar with the details of Gardner’s proposal, he understood that Democrats supported it.

“We ought to avoid election-year grandstanding and silliness and do what’s right, which is to help allies like Japan, the Ukraine and Western Europe access what are abundant potential LNG supplies from America,” Udall said. “That’s the opportunity that presents itself, and this is a bipartisan idea.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee jumped on Udall’s shift as a sign that he is scared about the upcoming election.

“If one needed more evidence that Mark Udall is panicked, look no further than the fact that he is now taking Cory Gardner's bill and introducing it as his own in the Senate,” spokeswoman Brook Hougesen said in a statement. “They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case it seems to be a sincere form of desperation by a Senator worried about losing his job.”