White House 'welcomes' natural gas exports
The White House has affirmed its support of American natural gas exports as Europe seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies.
Energy is playing a major role in the conflict in Ukraine. The European Union has denounced Russia for annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and is now looking to the U.S. to strengthen its position.
Until now, the Obama administration has been cautious when it comes to exporting liquified natural gas (LNG) to countries it doesn’t have a free trade agreement with. The U.S. Department of Energy is required to approve of such deals to make sure they’re in the public’s best interest.
But ina joint statement Wednesday, the White House and the European union said they “welcome the prospect of U.S. LNG exports in the future since additional global supplies will benefit Europe and other strategic partners.”
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Republicans in Congress are pressing Obama to accelerate the Energy Department’s approval process for natural gas export facilities.
Pressure is also coming from European countries that are now reliant on Russian President Vladimir Putin for the majority of their gas supplies. Officials from the Eastern European countries of Lithuania and Hungary visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday to make the case for gas exports, claiming a move by the president to accelerate approvals would send a signal to Putin.
The Marcellus Shale is poised to play a role in the global LNG market. The high production of natural gas in Pennsylvania has produced a glut which caused prices to drop and drilling to slow down in some of the state’s gas fields. The industry hopes exporting Marcellus LNG could stabilize the market.
Recently, a Maryland appeals court ruled in favor of a plan by Dominion Resources to export Marcellus LNG from an existing import terminal at Cove Point to India and Japan. The plan was approved by the U.S. Department of Energy back in September and awaits final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.