Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) introduced the Expedited LNG for American Allies Act. This measure, which is the bipartisan House companion to bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), seeks to help strengthen our strategic partnerships with key allies, reduce the trade deficit and boost job growth right here at home by streamlining the regulatory process to export natural gas to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries, Japan and others. This bill is a modified version of the LNG for NATO Act, originally authored by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and which Turner introduced as the House companion bill in the 112th Congress. Turner serves as the Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
"The United States is one of the largest producers of natural gas in the world and is experiencing a surplus in production, helping to drive down prices compared to global rates. Increasing natural gas exports to key allies would help them diversify their energy resources, bolster their energy and national security, and strengthen our strategic alliances," said Turner.
Increased natural gas exports would help reduce our trade deficit and create job opportunities for American workers. A recent Department of Energy-commissioned report found that increasing exports of natural gas would have positive economic benefits for our country.
"Helping our allies diversify their energy resources is important to strengthening our strategic partnerships and bolstering security. Many of our allies are heavily reliant on natural gas supplies from either one country or from unstable regions. It's simple -- increased production of energy in America will help increase the security of our allies around the world," added Turner.
Several European countries have experienced natural gas supply disruptions from Russia, the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe, over various disputes. Also, Turkey relies on 20 percent of its natural gas from Iran. Recently, Islamist militants attacked a natural gas facility in Algeria, which is the third largest exporter of natural gas to Europe. In addition, Japan, a strategic ally in Asia and already the world's largest importer of natural gas, may need to seek greater imports of natural gas as a result of the fallout from its 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear plant disaster.
Under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act, companies seeking to export natural gas must gain approval from the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, which determines if such exports are in the public interest. For countries with which the United States has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) the approval is automatic. For non-FTA countries, there is a regulatory process to determine if such exports are in the public interest.
The Expedited LNG for American Allies Act would treat NATO countries and Japan similar to FTA countries, making the public interest determination automatic for natural gas exports to our key allies. The bill also creates a process that allows the addition of other foreign countries to this list if the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, determines that it would be in our national security interests. It should be noted that companies seeking to export natural gas must still seek approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.