House LNG export measure’s sponsor cheers amendment in defense bill

The author of a US House bill that aims to facilitate US exports of LNG applauded its adoption as an amendment to the fiscal 2017 defense appropriations bill by the Armed Services Committee on Apr. 27. “That greatly improved its chances of being enacted because the president isn’t about to veto the Department of Defense budget,” said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio).

“But we’re not taking anything for granted, and plan to keep working to get this done in other ways,” he continued on Apr. 28 in remarks during a Transatlantic Energy Dialogue hosted by LNG Allies.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) proposed Johnson’s bill, HR 351, as an amendment to the defense appropriations bill during markup. “Ramping up LNG exports is a win-win for our allies and our economy,” he said after the committee passed the full bill by 60 to 2 votes.

Other House members said at the LNG Allies event that support continues to grow for helping export project sponsors get federal permit and national interest decisions sooner.

The US Department of Energy now spends an average of 200 days after a project’s National Environmental Policy Act review is completed to determine whether LNG exports to countries without a free trade agreement with the US is in the national interest, noted Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.). “The amendment which the Armed Services Committee adopted yesterday would require DOE to reach a decision within 30 days,” he said.

Other countries may have nearly comparable ranges of energy supplies, but they don’t have the US commitment to free market policies, observed Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-Tex.).

‘Exporting freedom’

“We’re the one part of the world that has such a big production development up-side,” he said. “Our capability based on market incentives is higher than the rest of the world combined. Overseas customers deal with private companies and have access to our technology. We’re not just exporting energy. We’re exporting freedom.”

“The US has the opportunity to do with oil and gas what it does in so many other commodity markets: be the stabilizing force,” declared Kevin Cramer (R-ND). “In our state, we understand fossil fuels and stewardship because North Dakota is so agrarian. We understand the global aspect of the commodities we produce. The opportunity to use them as peaceful economic development tools instead of political intimidation devices is important. These tools can create relationships instead of divisions.”

“The shale revolution happened more quickly than anyone in this country anticipated,” American Petroleum Institute Executive Director for Market Development Martin J. Durbin said. “Our global energy policy’s changes the past few years have been equally significant. Support from embassies of Eastern and Central European countries helped a lot.”

Diplomats from the four Central European nations which comprise the Visegrad Group agreed that growing US prominence as an oil and gas exporter has helped. Czech Republic Ambassador to the US Petr Gandalovic recalled sending a letter to Congress in 2014 with his counterparts from Hungary, Poland, and the Slovak Republic expressing interest in US LNG exports. “As we speak, the first shipment of US LNG to Europe is reaching Portuguese shores,” he said.

“Our part of Europe is almost 100% dependent on oil and gas imports,” said Jan Kuderjavy, who directs the Slovak Republic’s Economic Diplomacy Department. “We were very much affected when Russia cut gas supplies to Ukraine in 2009 and saw curbs on our industries because of those interruptions. Now, gas moves in the opposite direction, but there’s still a long way to go. We hope to see more interconnectors in all our countries.”

Adam Jamczak, deputy director of Poland’s EU economic department, said, “We need a strategic LNG partnership between the US and the entire European Union. We’ve discussed a new strategic energy corridor in Eastern Europe for years, but it’s entering a critical phase. Ukraine will be in the picture as long as interconnectivity between Slovakia and Poland is being constructed. But we’re also concerned that the Nordstream II gas pipeline could block further development of the market in our part of Europe if it’s constructed.”

Contact Nick Snow at

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