Washington: A bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the US Congress to expedite export of natural gas to American allies like India and Japan.
Though the legislation is aimed at helping Ukraine and other European countries who are heavily dependent on Russian gas, the passage of the bill would also help countries like India and Japan, who for long have been pushing for necessary changes in the American laws to expedite export of the US gas.
"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 US gas supplies will be available to our allies, and that we will stand firm to Putin and supplant Russia's influence," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton.
"This is a critical piece of legislation for energy, economic, and national security," he said after introducing the legislation.
US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is scheduled to travel to India next week, said a day earlier that he was open to discussing reforms to the process with Congress, given the fact that Department of Energy cannot determine where the gas is shipped once the facility is approved.
"This legislation would ensure that exports to WTO countries are not subject to unnecessary delays," Upton said.
The legislation - HR 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act - 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 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 US 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.
First Published: Saturday, March 8, 2014, 14:53