GOP rep to introduce bill to increase natural gas exports

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) is planning to introduce a bill Tuesday that would open liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to more than 100 countries.

Under Turner’s legislation, companies wishing to ship LNG to the 160 member countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) would be able to do so without getting Energy Department approval.

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“We know that if we can affect an overall lowering of the cost of natural gas in the international markets, international markets will thrive and grow,” Turner said Tuesday at an event hosted by LNG Allies, an ad-hoc group that includes embassies of countries that want to import American natural gas.

“As we see those economies grow, we know that businesses in the United States that are invested there will also grow,” he said.

“By lowering those export barriers, we actually create jobs in the United States, bring capital into the United States and have a global, international impact.”

Currently, only exports to the 20 countries with United States free trade agreements can bypass the Energy Department’s review to determine whether the exports would be in the national interest.

That review process has been criticized in recent years as taking too long.

Turner introduced similar legislation last year. The bill uses a different strategy than Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who introduced legislation last week that would set a 45-day limit on the Energy Department’s review.

Turner said it is logical to conclude that exporting to countries within the WTO, which are already closely linked economically, would be in the United States’ national interest.

“Our bill would say that it is in the best interest of the United States that we be permitted, without a bureaucratic process and restrictions, for those exports,” he said.

“We believe that it would not only increase exploration in the United States, production in the United States, create jobs, create capital that’s going back in the United States, and raise overall the economic performance of the energy sector that will benefit the United States,” he said, adding that the United States ought to take an international leadership role on energy issues, including natural gas.

The push to export natural gas took on new steam last year as a way to reduce the power that Russia and its President Vladimir Putin hold over its neighbors, which largely depend on Russian natural gas.

“We know that natural gas is one of the tools that Russia has used a geopolitical punishment of its neighbors and its friends, in addition to being part of the overall economic engine that helps fuel the Russian regime,” Turner said.