White House Backs Gas Exports

US President Barack Obama waves after delivering a speech at the Palais des Beaux-Arts (Palace of Fine Arts - BOZAR) in Brussels on March 26, 2014. Obama said Russia stood 'alone' on the Ukraine crisis as he paid his first ever visit to European Union headquarters, cementing Western opposition to the takeover of Crimea.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
March 26, 2014, 12:13 p.m.

The White House made its strongest state­ment yet Wed­nes­day that it views U.S. nat­ur­al-gas ex­ports as one tool to curb Europe’s re­li­ance on Rus­si­an en­ergy and di­ver­si­fy sup­plies.

From the joint U.S.-European Uni­on state­ment is­sued along­side the U.S.-E.U. sum­mit in Brus­sels: “The situ­ation in Ukraine proves the need to re­in­force en­ergy se­cur­ity in Europe, and we are con­sid­er­ing new col­lab­or­at­ive ef­forts to achieve this goal. We wel­come the pro­spect of U.S. LNG ex­ports in the fu­ture since ad­di­tion­al glob­al sup­plies will be­ne­fit Europe and oth­er stra­tegic part­ners.”

Oth­er tools in­clude re­vers­ing nat­ur­al-gas flows to al­low oth­er E.U. na­tions to ship gas in­to Ukraine and more col­lab­or­a­tion on ef­fi­ciency, re­new­ables, and oth­er sources. Check out the whole thing here.

Pres­id­ent Obama, in re­marks in Brus­sels, more broadly said that en­ergy is a “cent­ral fo­cus” of the re­sponse to Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea. “This en­tire event has poin­ted to the need for Europe to look at how it can di­ver­si­fy its en­ergy sources,” he said, The Wall Street Journ­al re­ports.

Obama poin­ted out that the pro­posed U.S.-E.U. trade deal, called the Transat­lantic Trade and In­vest­ment Part­ner­ship, would ease the way for send­ing U.S. gas to Europe.

“Once we have a trade agree­ment in place, ex­port li­cences for pro­jects for li­que­fied nat­ur­al gas destined to Europe would be much easi­er, something that is ob­vi­ously rel­ev­ant in today’s geo­pol­it­ic­al en­vir­on­ment,” Obama said after meet­ing with E.U. lead­ers, Re­u­ters re­ports. But that trade deal faces hurdles in Con­gress.

Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Jack Fitzpatrick has some on-the-ground cov­er­age of Obama’s re­marks here.

And back on Cap­it­ol Hill, where there’s plenty of sup­port for ex­ports, one ana­lyst cau­tioned that there are real con­straints on the abil­ity of U.S. en­ergy re­sources to isol­ate Rus­sia.

“While the pro­spect of U.S. en­ergy ex­ports could use­fully re­duce Rus­si­an en­ergy ex­port rev­en­ues, U.S. ex­ports will not dis­place Rus­sia from its dom­in­ant po­s­i­tion in the European mar­ket; claim­ing oth­er­wise re­duces U.S. cred­ib­il­ity,” said Mi­chael Levi, a seni­or fel­low with the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions, in testi­mony to the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee.

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