House panel OKs bill to speed up gas exports

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill Wednesday that would speed up exports of liquefied natural gas.

The committee advanced the bill proposed by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in a 33-18 vote, but with significant changes made after a bipartisan agreement was reached Tuesday.

Lawmakers have been clamoring for action on gas exports in response to the conflict in Ukraine, which has brought into sharp relief the dependence of Eastern European countries on Russia for natural gas. The United States, which is experiencing a boom in gas production, could help break that dependency with exports.

The House bill requires that the Department of Energy issue a decision on applications for natural gas export facilities no later than 90 days after the comment period ends or once the bill is enacted.

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The measure had initially sought to approve all pending applications immediately, and to allow for export to World Trade Organization countries.

Gardner proposed the bill to lay the groundwork for selling natural gas to allies, including Ukraine and Eastern European nations, but that language did not make it to the final version.

"We will not deem any pending application approved,” Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) said at a committee markup on Tuesday. “DOE will continue to lend its considerable expertise to protect the public interest, and we will not forgo environmental protection. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, will continue to ensure our environment is protected.”