European worries about the security of energy supplies have grown
since Russian forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula from
Ukraine this month. Moscow has in years past cut gas supplies amid
Currently, the U.S. Department of Energy must give permission to
export natural gas to all but a handful of countries with free trade
agreements with the United States.
Opponents of unlimited gas exports have argued that shipping too
much natural gas abroad could cause U.S. prices to rise, hampering
the economy's ability to recover from the recent recession.
Hearings before the House and Senate energy committees come on the
heels of the Energy Department's sixth approval of LNG exports from
a U.S. plant in the past 10 months.
"While our government does not dictate where that supply will go, it
does control how fast we will connect to the global market," David
Goldwyn, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, will tell
lawmakers at a Senate Energy Committee hearing slated for 10 a.m.
EDT on Tuesday.
This will be Senator Mary Landrieu's first hearing as chairwoman of
the Energy Committee. The Louisiana Democrat has pressed to
streamline review of the 24 applications in the queue.
A vocal coalition of industrial companies, led by Dow Chemical Co,
has disputed claims that speeding up the Energy Department approvals
would help Ukraine or other allies as substantial U.S. gas exports
remain years away.
ELIMINATING DOE'S REVIEW
One solution is legislation that the House Energy Committee will
consider on Tuesday afternoon to allow U.S. natural gas exports to
any country that is a member of the World Trade Organization without
While the administration has not officially taken a position on the
measure, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas Paula
Gant will tell lawmakers the bill would essentially eliminate the
need for Energy Department review of applications.
[to top of second column]
The WTO encompasses 159 nations, including every country that has
expressed interest in LNG imports, Gant said in prepared testimony.
Instead exporting natural gas, the United States should look to
export drilling technology that would allow countries such as
Ukraine to tap their own shale gas reserves, Dave Schryver, the
executive vice president of the American Public Gas Association will
tell lawmakers at the House hearing.
"There is certainly no good reason why the U.S. should undertake a
domestic LNG export policy that has numerous downsides for the
American gas consumers when many of the very countries we are
seeking to help are capable of helping themselves by accessing their
own domestic shale gas reserves," Schryver said.
APGA, which is a part of Dow's coalition, is opposed to all U.S. LNG
exports, which it says will increase the price of U.S. natural gas.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Lisa
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