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Export Battle Reaches Fever Pitch - Energy Edge Brought to You by the American Petroleum Institute

March 24, 2014

Gas-Export Battle Reaches Fever Pitch in Congress 

By Ben Geman (@Ben_Geman), Clare Foran (@ckmarie), and Jason Plautz (@Jason_Plautz)

Natural-gas exports are getting their day in the sun this week on Capitol Hill. Actually, it's two days.

 

On Tuesday, expect a heavy dose of pro-export rhetoric on both sides of the Hill. A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will gather to discuss GOP legislation that would approve a slew of LNG export proposals stacked up at the Energy Department.

The committee has posted most of the testimony here. That includes comments by a Hungarian official who said approving U.S. exports can immediately start to help Europe move away from Russian energy, even though an export surge is years away.

"It would immediately change the business calculus of infrastructure investments and send an extremely important message of strategic reassurance to the region which currently feels more threatened than any time since the Cold War," said Anita Orbán, Hungary's ambassador at large for energy security.

Across the Capitol, Senate Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing on gas exports too—the committee's first hearing led by Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, the panel's pro-export chairwoman.

Then, on Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee gets into the action with a hearing on "The Geopolitical Potential of the U.S. Energy Boom."

The Obama administration, for its part, hasn't been approving export applications as fast as many lawmakers and industry groups would like. But they're marching along too.

On Monday, a day before the hearings get rolling, the Energy Department gave conditional approval to the Jordan Cove LNG project in Oregon.

It's the seventh Energy Department green light for projects to send gas to countries that don't have formal free-trade deals with the U.S. (those projects are more carefully vetted). See below for more about the approval.

Ben Geman
bgeman@nationaljournal.com

TOP ENERGY NEWS

ADMINISTRATION GREEN-LIGHTS EXPORT TERMINAL. The Energy Department granted conditional approval to the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal in Oregon, authorizing it to ship natural gas to non-free-trade-agreement nations. (Jim Snyder, Bloomberg)

CLIMATE CHIEF SEEKS TO REASSURE. According to Christiana Figueres, executive secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, "We're on a straight path toward an agreement in Paris in December 2015." (Catherine Brahic, New Scientist)

LANDRIEU IS PAYING—AND GETTING PAID BIG—FOR STANCE ON GLOBAL WARMING. Environmentalists need the Louisiana Democrat to win her bid for reelection, but the environmental lobby's heavy hitters aren't going anywhere near her Senate race. (Clare Foran, National Journal)

ETHANOL PRICES AT TWO-AND-A-HALF-YEAR HIGH. Ethanol is selling at a high price point due to a slowdown of shipments via railway caused by a railcar shortage. (Tony Dreibus and Michael Calia, Wall Street Journal)

GREEN GROUPS PAY OUT. A coalition of environmental groups will spend $5 million on ads and statewide campaigns boosting three Democratic Senate candidates, including incumbent Kay Hagan of North Carolina, as well as Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. (Alicia Mundy, Wall Street Journal)

SENATOR LENDS COAL A HAND. Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp unveiled legislation that would provide substantial federal loan guarantees and tax breaks to keep the embattled fuel source afloat. (Laura Barron-Lopez, The Hill)

EPA DIVES INTO COAL-ASH CASE. The agency will take part in an investigation into potential misconduct on the part of Duke Energy in a coal-ash spill that took place in February in North Carolina. (Michael Wines, New York Times)

HIGH COURT DEALS BLOW TO COAL. The Supreme Court has declined to take up the question of whether EPA overstepped its bounds when it revoked permits needed for mountaintop coal removal. (Brent Kendall, Wall Street Journal)

GALVESTON OIL SPILL SHUTS DOWN SHIPPING CHANNEL. An oil spill in Galveston Bay in Texas has led authorities to close off the Houston Ship Channel. (Lynn Cook, Wall Street Journal)

VALERO SETS UP SHOP IN INDIANA. Valero plans to ramp up production at an ethanol plant it just purchased near the Ohio River. (Associated Press)

WHAT INSIDERS ARE SAYING…

IS THERE A DIPLOMATIC CASE FOR GAS EXPORTS? Should the U.S. lift export restrictions in response to the crisis in Ukraine or should current policies be left in place? What's at stake for U.S. diplomatic relations, the economy, and the environment?

"We face the important choice of whether to take action to improve our national security and our economic security, or recede and let other nations pass us by. We should pick up the pace on LNG exports and seize this opportunity. Experts across the spectrum agree that advancing exports is the right path forward. Now is the time to lead on that path." —Frank Macchiarola, executive vice president for government affairs, America's Natural Gas Alliance

Read the full responses from National Journal's Energy Insiders

HAPPENING TOMORROW

SENATE EXPORTS HEARING. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing titled "Importing Energy, Exporting Jobs. Can It Be Reversed?"

HOUSE EXPORTS HEARING. The House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee holds a hearing on legislation provide for expedited approval of exportation of natural gas to World Trade Organization countries.

HOUSE ENERGY BUDGET HEARING. The House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee holds a hearing on the Energy Department budget.

HOUSE WATER HEARING. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee holds a hearing on "The Role of Water Quality Trading in Achieving Clean Water Objectives."

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