LNG Exports: A Win for Europe and for America

June 5, 2015 | 00:00
LNG Exports: A Win for Europe and for America
LNG Exports: A Win for Europe and for America
I recently joined a bipartisan group of members from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a trip to Portugal, Belgium, and the Ukraine to discuss our mutual energy interests and Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe. During the meetings it became clear that America possesses the energy resources needed to influence global energy markets and provide a reliable trading partner to our allies around the globe – many of whom are beholden to the whims of Russian President Vladimir Putin for their energy needs.

The message from our European allies I met with, overwhelmingly, is that they are looking to the United States to take the lead in providing a reliable and secure source of natural gas. In fact, the high-ranking Ukrainian officials I spoke with indicated that boosting American natural gas exports would effectively contribute to cutting off Russia’s cash flow, thus greatly reducing their influence in the region. Additionally, officials from Spain and Portugal have said that they’re working on building the infrastructure needed to import and replace roughly 80% of Russian gas that Europe depends on.

Bill Johnson
U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson


The U.S. Energy Information Administration released new data projecting that domestic natural gas production would outpace consumption through 2040, when production is forecast to reach 35.5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). My home state of Ohio alone produced 186,181 million cubic feet by the end of 2013, illustrating the enormous resource wealth that America possesses. With more than enough natural gas to continue meeting demand at home, we have the capability to ship our surplus natural gas to our trading partners around the world.

In addition to the significant geopolitical benefits we’d realize from exporting our excess LNG, doing so would also benefit American workers – it would create jobs here at home. The construction of new export projects is expected to put up to 45,000 unemployed Americans back to work by 2018, stimulating new investment in the energy and manufacturing industries and growing our economy here at home. At a time when many producers are slowing production and laying down rigs because domestic energy prices are so low, opening up export markets hungry for American energy would keep American workers on the job.

I am working hard to bring this opportunity to fruition.

Although the shipment of LNG to non-free trade agreement countries is officially presumed to be in the national interest, the process takes years and costs millions of dollars. Over 30 natural gas export applications to non- free trade agreement (FTA) countries continue to languish in various stages of permitting at the Department of Energy. The approval process has been so glacial that some argue the government’s policy actually represents a de facto ban on exports.

In order to break through the bureaucratic red tape, I introduced H.R. 315, LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act. The bill would establish a firm 30-day deadline for DOE to render a decision on each project – in so doing, my bill would simply provide developers greater visibility and certainty into the regulatory process, removing much of the bureaucratic red tape and unknowns from the process. H.R. 315 passed the House with a sizeable bipartisan majority earlier this year, and a similar bill is now making its way through the Senate. I’m hopeful that the Senate will follow the House’s lead in passing this important legislation.

While it will take some time for projects to secure financing and complete construction, the message this legislation will send to our allies and adversaries will be powerful and immediate: America is willing to lead, and influence outcomes. We have a once in a generation opportunity to create American jobs, help our allies, and put a rogue regime on its heels all at the same time. It’s time we do it.




U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson represents Eastern and Southeastern Ohio in the House of Representatives.
In his role on the U.S House of Representatives Energy and Commerce committee Congressman Johnson has become increasingly involved in efforts to facilitate the export of American LNG abroad, culminating in the introduction of legislation to that effect earlier this year (H.R. 315, LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act)


Image: The LNG carrier Shahamah in Uraga Channel, Japan. By: 青空白帆 CC-license.
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