Russia-China gas deal shows need for US nat gas exports, supporters say

Supporters of expediting liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States said the $400 billion gas deal between Russia and China boosts their case.

China agreed Wednesday to buy gas from Russia for three decades, the largest gas deal for post-Soviet Russia.

“As the United States buries our energy development in bureaucracy, the world is moving beyond us,” said Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who sponsored a bill to speed up the Energy Department’s approval process for companies wishing to export LNG.

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“So I think it’s just one more sign that we have to move forward in as expeditious a fashion as possible to remain competitive at the global level and to give our allies an additional option,” Gardner said.

Gardner introduced his bill this spring as Russia became increasingly aggressive toward its neighbors and threatened to cut off gas supplies to nearby countries that rely on Russian energy. Russia eventually annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

Republicans and some Democrats pushed LNG exports as a way to not just help U.S. allies, but also loosen Russia’s control on Europe. Wednesday’s gas deal with China is another major energy accomplishment for Russian and its president, Vladimir Putin.

Gardner called the move “one more sign” that the U.S. needs to speed up exports. No facilities currently exist in the contiguous U.S. to export gas, except to Canada and Mexico.

Alex McCarthy, spokesman for Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said that the deal’s geopolitical implications concern Udall.

“This underscores why Sen. Udall has been saying Colorado and our nation's natural gas resources need to be exported — and why the Department of Energy must fast-track its approval of LNG terminals,” McCarthy said.

Gardner is challenging Udall for his Senate seat this year in the state that ranks No. 4 among natural gas producers.