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ISTOOK: Meet Vladimir Putin’s best friend — America’s energy red-tape
Question of the Day
Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have just written House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, asking Congress to speed up approval of natural gas exports.
“The presence of U.S. natural gas would be much welcome in Central and Eastern Europe,” their letter says, “and congressional action to expedite exports to America’s allies would come at a critically important time for the region.”
Fortunately, Mr. Boehner and some others are willing, although Mr. Obama is mum on the topic.
We’re flaring natural gas from a reported 1,500 sites in the U.S. — burning it as a waste byproduct because we have a glut of overproduction.
However, our federal red tape makes exporting it a monstrously complicated process.
With more than 300,000 miles of domestic natural gas pipelines, we can deliver the product to our coasts. But building the export terminals to put it onto natural gas tankers for shipment overseas requires federal permits.
With its usual gamesmanship, the Obama administration’s Energy Department brags on its website that it has “approved” applications to export 38.5-billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in recent years. That is grossly misleading.
To quote from one of the typical “approvals”: “this Order is conditioned on [applicant’s] satisfactory completion of the environmental review process … and on issuance by Department of Energy/Fossil Energy of a finding of no significant impact … Additionally, the authorization is conditioned on [applicant’s] on-going compliance with any and all preventative and mitigative measures … imposed by federal or state agencies.”
The additional requirements continue like this for multiple pages, including those for extensive and un-redacted filings of all foreign sales contracts of LNG (liquified natural gas). The federal grant to operate an LNG terminal is only good for 25 years of operation, which is quite limited for a project that typically requires several billion dollars to construct.
This is part of what Mr. Boehner labels as “an approval process that is excruciatingly slow and amounts to a de facto ban on American natural-gas exports,” as he wrote Friday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
There are some Democrats willing to act, such as Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat who has authored a bill to expedite the process.
In the House, Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, California Republican, wants to speed up approval as part of a package response to Mr. Putin’s moves. That bill cleared committee and should have a quick House vote.
But in trying to accelerate the natural gas export process, Mr. Royce encountered the same knee-jerk reactionaries who already are holding back America’s economy and hurting our global standing.
With Mr. Royce’s support, Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican, proposed language declaring it would be U.S. policy “to increase natural gas exports to Ukraine and other European states and former Soviet Republics to reduce Russian control of energy exports.”
About the Author
Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard’s Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today.
Now as a radio host and ...
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