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Upton Supports Ukrainian Aid, Introduces Bill to Expedite U.S. LNG Exports

U.S. natural gas exports could weaken Russian stranglehold on Ukraine and Eastern European nations

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Washington, DC, March 6, 2014 | Lynn Turner / Nick Culp (269-385-0039 / 202-225-3761) | comments
Amidst the turmoil in Crimea, Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today voted for legislation (H.R. 4152) to grant the Obama administration the authority provide loan guarantees to the country of Ukraine. H.R. 4152 passed the House this afternoon by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 385 to 23.

“The United States and our European allies stand firmly behind the Ukrainian people during this tumultuous period,” said Upton. “This legislation will help strengthen Ukraine through its current transition and send a clear signal to Moscow that unlawful acts of aggression toward our Eastern European allies will not be tolerated. We will not turn back the clocks or our backs.”

H.R. 4152 would make Ukraine eligible for U.S.-backed loan guarantees, allowing the Eastern European government to borrow funds to help provide critical services to the Ukrainian people. Funding would be provided within the existing State Department budget, so no new spending is needed for the United States to back these loans.

Today, Upton’s Energy and Commerce Committee introduced bipartisan legislation to help expedite the export of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) to our global allies, including Ukraine and other Eastern European nations currently at the mercy of Russian energy supplies. Consistent with the committee’s conclusions from its recent report, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act (H.R. 6) provides that all pending LNG export applications for which a notice has been published in the Federal Register as of March 6, 2014, will be granted without delay.

“The turmoil in Ukraine underscores the problem with DOE’s unnecessarily sluggish LNG export approval process. Passing this legislation sends the clear signal that America intends to take full advantage of our energy resources, developing them not only for our own use, but to ensure the lifeline of U.S. gas supplies will be available to our allies, and that we will stand firm to Putin and supplant Russia’s influence,” said Upton. “I will continue to work with my colleagues on the committee, in leadership, and in the Senate to fix this problem as soon as possible. This is a critical piece of legislation for energy, economic, and national security.”

Department of Energy analysis finds that America has enough natural gas to meet domestic needs affordably while also supporting economically beneficial export markets in LNG. According to the Department, the U.S. economy will experience “net economic benefits” from allowing increased LNG exports. The report found that while increased exports may impact domestic natural gas prices, the cost increases would be offset by jobs gained, revenue gained, and other economic benefits.

The legislation also modifies the standard of review for future export applications, shifting the benchmark from Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries to World Trade Organization (WTO) members. Under current law, LNG export facilities shipping gas to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the United States require an additional level of approval by the Department of Energy, a process characterized by extensive delays. To date, this administration has only approved six export applications and 24 applications are still awaiting action.

Speaking on LNG exports in light of the situation in Ukraine, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remarked at an energy conference on Wednesday, "I would certainly welcome consultation in terms of how to go forward … This is obviously a very, very serious and important situation.”
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