Dear Senate Majority Leader Reid:
We write to urge that, during any upcoming Senate floor debate on legislation providing economic assistance to Ukraine and sanctions against officials of the Russian Federation, you allow consideration of an amendment to expedite liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to such countries as Ukraine and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
During the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's markup on March 12th, Chairman Menendez refused to consider amendments which would expedite LNG exports to Ukraine and our NATO allies. Chairman Menendez ruled that these amendments were outside the scope of the Committee's jurisdiction even though much of the underlying bill--as well as amendments from other Committee members--were outside the scope of the Committee's jurisdiction. Chairman Menendez's ruling was arbitrary and ignored the critical role that energy plays in the crisis in Ukraine.
Ukraine imports about 60 percent of its natural gas from Russia. Nine of our NATO allies import 40 percent or more of their natural gas from Russia. Four of our NATO allies import 100 percent of their natural gas from Russia. Despite this vulnerability, the Administration has been unresponsive to the pleas of our allies for American natural gas. For that reason, our NATO allies are now calling on Congress to expedite LNG exports. As Russia wields its energy supply as a strategic weapon against Ukraine and our NATO allies, we must consider this issue on the Senate floor.
Approving meaningful amounts of liquefied natural gas exports from the United States will have an immediate and positive impact. The United States will show that it is serious about competing with Russia for the European gas market. This in turn will enhance the bargaining position of countries like Ukraine and our NATO allies in ongoing and future gas contract negotiations with Russia. Countries like Ukraine and our NATO allies will have the option of alternative future suppliers which sell natural gas indexed to low American natural gas prices--not world crude oil prices as Russia has long demanded. That means more money for countries like Ukraine and our NATO allies and less money for Russia's state-controlled energy company, Gazprom.
By passing legislation to provide economic assistance to Ukraine, Congress will effectively be asking American taxpayers to help Ukraine pay its Russian gas bill. Whether we agree or disagree with the merits of such a proposal, we should all be able to agree that Congress should ensure that Ukraine and our NATO allies have the opportunity to purchase American natural gas in the future. Refusing to consider an amendment to expedite LNG exports would represent a lost opportunity to lend a hand to friends and allies who seek to free themselves from the Kremlin's aggression.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your prompt response.