THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

House Energy Committee Passes Bill to Speed
Up Natural-Gas Exports

Legislation Gaining Momentum After Russia's Encroachment into
Ukraine

By Amy Harder
Updated April 30, 2014 5:49 p.m. ET

 

WASHINGTON—Five Democrats joined all Republicans on the House Energy and
Commerce Committee to pass legislation on Wednesday that would speed up the federal
government's review of natural-gas export applications.


The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), has gained momentum in light
of Russia's encroachment into Ukraine, which is one of several European nations heavily
dependent upon Russia for natural gas. The bill will be considered on the floor—and likely
pass—sometime in May, Mr. Gardner said in an interview.


The bill would require the Energy Department to make a decision on pending applications
no later than 90 days after the comment period ends for each particular application or 90
days after enactment of the bill. As originally drafted, the measure automatically approved
all of the applications already pending before the department.


The committee also agreed to an amendment offered by Rep. Gene Green (D., Texas) that
would allow the 20 countries with free trade agreements to receive automatic approval from
the Energy Department, keeping the bill in line with current law. The original draft had
expanded the automatic-approval provision to the 159 members of the World Trade
Organization.


The bill passed 33-18, with Democratic Reps. Green, Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Jim
Matheson of Utah, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico
joining all Republicans in voting yes.


The office of House Speaker John Boehner, (R., Ohio), is releasing a video also on
Wednesday showing Mr. Boehner underscoring the importance of the issue.


Passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate is much less certain. While Sen. Mark Udall
(D., Colo.) has introduced a similar bill, it hasn't been considered in any committee yet.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has indicated he is open to allowing a vote on
Mr. Udall's bill, but it isn't clear when or if that will happen. The House has voted on and
passed a few other bills over the past couple of years expediting natural-gas exports, but
the Senate hasn't voted on any such bill.


Federal approval of the applications doesn't guarantee the projects will eventually be built.
Seven projects have conditional approval from the Energy Department, but only one, owned
by Cheniere Energy has received a final clearance from the Obama administration.


Write to Amy Harder at amy.harder@wsj.com
Corrections & Amplifications
An amendment dealing with which countries get automatic approvals was offered by
Democratic Rep. Gene Green of Texas. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said
Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania offered the amendment.


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