U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today announced that he is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to broaden natural gas exports to U.S. allies in order to advance American national security interests.
The Expedited LNG for American Allies Act of 2013 (S.192) would require the Secretary of Energy to allow approve exports of natural gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), to NATO allies and Japan. Under current law, the Energy Secretary is only required to approve exports to countries that have free trade agreements with the United States that encompass trade in natural gas.
"It makes sense to make our natural gas resources available to support our allies and to strengthen U.S. national security. That is not automatically the case today," Cochran said. "The intent of this legislation also makes sense economically by expanding the market for our natural gas. It is my hope that it will create new opportunities for these energy interests in Mississippi."
Mississippi hosts a regasification and LNG storage facility in Pascagoula. In addition, oil and gas exploration in Mississippi has picked up in recent years.
S.192 would amend current law by ending the requirement that the Secretary of Energy make a "public interest determination," which involves a lengthy public comment period, before approving applications to export natural gas to countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the United States.
In addition to expanding exports to NATO allies and Japan, the Expedited LNG for American Allies Act would allow natural gas exports to other nations if these natural gas exports will promote the national security of the United States. These determinations would be made by the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense.
Introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the legislation is intended to aid the U.S. energy sector while increasing energy security among allied nations that are subjected to political and market manipulation from other energy-producing countries like Iran and Russia.
In addition to Cochran, S.192 is cosponsored by Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and David Vitter (R-La.).
The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.