The House of Representatives today will consider H.R. 4606, the Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act, which provides that applications under the Natural Gas Act (NGA) for the importation or exportation of small volumes of natural gas will be granted without delay if they do not require an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act.
This legislation will help the United States fully realize its economic potential regarding small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and associated technologies. Emerging markets within the Caribbean, Central America, and South America are looking to U.S. natural gas to help meet their growing energy needs, and this legislation will help ensure our domestic producers and exporters are able to meet that demand, along with providing new job opportunities throughout our country.
Despite the U.S. being the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, American companies are unable to export small quantities of natural gas to neighboring countries in an efficient manner. By reducing regulatory constraints and codifying a similar rule issued by the Department of Energy (DOE), H.R. 4606 will better allow our domestic providers the opportunity to provide a stable source of U.S. energy to countries currently reliant on Venezuelan fuel oil, which has been used to gain influence within countries in the region. This effort to increase U.S. energy opportunities within this area of the world is not new, as the previous administration also sought increased engagement through the creation of the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative.
As many independent studies and DOE commissioned studies have confirmed, the benefits of natural gas exports are clear - these exports are a net positive to our domestic economy. But, that is not the only benefit. As Puerto Rico continues to rebuild after the devastating hurricane in 2017, increased shipments and availability of reliable U.S. LNG can help the island meet its energy needs. Additionally, LNG exports can only serve to strengthen U.S. ties with countries throughout the region.
With U.S. natural gas reserves as large as they are, and with new technological advancements allowing our producers to access an increasing amount of natural gas each and every day, it’s imperative that the U.S. takes full advantage of this important and abundant energy resource. H.R. 4606 is a step in that direction, and it will strengthen U.S. geopolitical ties, increase job creation, and promote domestic economic growth as a result.
In short, America has this incredible source of energy at our fingertips - let’s use it to our advantage.
Johnson and Green are members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Both are co-chairs of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus.