U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today joined Republican colleagues to introduce legislation to expedite liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to NATO members and Japan, Alaska's key trading partner.
"In addition to being a key strategic ally for our nation, until China overtook it last year Japan has been Alaska's number one trading partner for decades. When I talk to members of the Japanese parliament or officials from Japanese utilities, concern for the security of their natural gas supply always comes up," said Begich. "The U.S. and Alaska have plenty of natural gas to sell to Japan and our NATO allies, and I can't think of a better place to sell it than to our strategic and economic partners."
By reducing trade barriers to exporting LNG and bringing Alaska natural gas to international markets, the bill will help increase energy security among U.S. allies and help reduce their need to purchase oil and gas from countries like Iran and Russia.
Under current law, the Secretary of Energy must approve applications to export natural gas to countries such as Japan, with which the United States does not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Prior to approving an LNG export application, the Secretary of Energy must make a public interest determination which includes a public comment period. The Expedited LNG for American Allies Act of 2013 amends federal law by requiring the Secretary of Energy to expeditiously approve exports of natural gas to NATO allies and Japan. This moves the process along more quickly and lowers project costs.
The bill would improve the economics of an Alaska natural gas pipeline project, bringing jobs to Alaskans and lowering their cost of energy.