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Public Statements

Strengthening Our Strategic Alliances

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. TURNER. Mr. Speaker, the American public always decries the partisan tone that happens here on this House floor, and I'm always amazed when people come down to the House floor and rail on Republicans and Democrats and try to place blame. I'm always particularly amazed when someone comes to the House floor and blames the Republicans for a bill that they voted for. I voted against sequestration, and I certainly agree with Mr. Hoyer's current statements of how bad sequestration is. It just would have been nice if the consistency was there in the actual voting record besides just the attempt to blame Republicans.

This clearly was a project that was proposed by the President. I opposed it because I knew it was going to wreak havoc on our national security. And I wish those who now see its folly actually had voted against it when it was on the House floor.

But, Mr. Speaker, I'm here today to talk about energy security. It continues to play an important role in global relationships and dialogue. In my role as chairman of the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, many foreign leaders and officials have expressed to me the need to diversify energy resources away from one source or from unstable regions.

As we all know, the United States is currently experiencing a surplus of natural gas production, helping to keep the price low compared with global rates. This is creating opportunities to boost job growth right here at home and for U.S. natural gas to compete in the global marketplace.

In fact, a recent Department of Energy commissioned report found that increasing exports of natural gas would have positive economic benefits for our country. In my home State of Ohio, exploration and development in the Utica Shale would have a $5 billion economic impact and create or support nearly 66,000 jobs in Ohio by 2014.

Increasing natural gas exports would not only help reduce our trade deficit and create job opportunities for American workers but would also help key allies diversify their energy sources, bolster their energy and national security, and strengthen our strategic alliances. Many of our allies are heavily reliant on natural gas from either one country or from unstable regions and are paying significantly higher prices.

Several of the largest natural gas importers are also NATO members with strong national security ties to the United States. In recent years, several European countries have experienced natural gas supply disruptions from Russia, the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe. Turkey relies on 20 percent of its natural gas from Iran.

Earlier this year, Islamist militants attacked a natural gas facility in Algeria, which is the third-largest exporter of natural gas to Europe.

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 2011 nuclear plant disaster. Japan already relies on 42 percent of its natural gas from Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

The surplus of U.S. natural gas production is already having an impact on global natural gas markets. Natural gas previously destined for the United States, but no longer needed as a result of our domestic increased production, has been diverted to other markets. For example, in 2012, nearly half of the natural gas supplied to Europe was purchased under spot contracts. Helping our allies diversify their energy resources is important to strengthening our partnerships and bolstering security.

Under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act, companies seeking to export natural gas must receive permits from the Department of Energy, which determines if such exports are in the public interest. Export permits to U.S.-free trade countries are automatically approved. Non-free trade countries must go through a process.

In general, when it comes to exporting U.S. goods, we often talk about barriers in other countries for U.S. producers that they must overcome to sell their products, but in this instance we have a domestic barrier that prevents us from exporting our natural gas to consumers willing and eager to buy.

There are currently 20 applications before the Department of Energy from companies seeking approval to export natural gas. As the DOE evaluates these applications, I hope it takes into consideration the domestic economic benefits.

I have authored bipartisan and bicameral legislation, H.R. 580, the Expedited LNG for American Allies Act, which would make approval of export licenses to NATO countries and Japan automatic. This bill creates a process that allows the addition of other foreign countries to this list if the Secretary of State deems, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, that it would be in our national interest.

Exporting U.S. natural gas presents opportunities to create American jobs while helping to bolster our strategic alliances. I urge all of my colleagues to support this important bill that would have great economic impacts for the United States.


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