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On February 16, 2023, Senators John Kennedy, Ted Cruz, Shelley Moore Capito, and Kevin Cramer filed Senate Bill (SB) 438, which is the reintroduction of the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act.

The bill aims to amend the Natural Gas Act to provide for expanded natural gas exports in the United States.  The Natural Gas Act of 1938, as amended, requires any person who wishes to engage in the import and/or export of natural gas (including Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), compressed natural gas, compressed gas liquids, etc.) from and/or to a foreign country to first obtain an authorization from the United States Department of Energy. Within the Department of Energy, the Office of Regulation, Analysis, and Engagement- Division of Natural Gas Regulation, is responsible for granting such authorizations.

Under the provisions of SB 438, the current Natural Gas Act would be amended to expedite non-free trade agreement (FTA) export permits. This would ensure applications for exporting LNG to certain non-FTA countries would be treated the same as applications for exporting LNG to FTA countries and receive the same accelerated approval process. Furthermore, the current law for restricted nations would remain the same, which is that any nation subject to sanctions or trade restrictions is specifically excluded. The President or Congress can specifically exclude any nation from expedited approval.

In 2019, the National Energy Technology Laboratory published a study titled “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Perspective on Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas from the United States: 2019 Update.”[1] This study showed that the use of United States LNG exports for power production in European and Asian Markets will not increase greenhouse gas emissions from a life cycle perspective when compared to regional coal extraction and consumption for power production. In citing the study above, Senator Kennedy noted that “LNG exports sustain Louisiana jobs, promote America’s energy independence and reduce global emissions” and that the bill reduces “unnecessary restrictions on LNG export permits.”

Shortly after the reintroduction of SB 438, on March 9, 2023, Congresswomen Lizzie Fletcher reintroduced the American Gas for Allies Act under the House of Representatives (H.R.) Bill 1497 on March 9, 2023. This bill allows for United States LNG to receive expedited approval from the Department of Energy to export LNG from the United States to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries. Due to no FTAs currently existing between the United States and European NATO countries, these countries must initiate a lengthy application process to import or export LNG with the United States.

Under the provisions of H.R. 1947, the Department of Energy would designate applications to export natural gas from the United States to NATO countries be granted without modification or delay for a three-year period. Furthermore, in addition to NATO countries, any other foreign nation can qualify when the Secretary of State—in consultation with the Secretaries of the Department of Defense and Department of Energy—determines it is in the national strategic defense interests of the United States to do so.

In reintroducing this bill, Congresswoman Fletcher stated that “The United States and our NATO allies have responded to President Putin’s aggression with strength, and we must remain committed to our allies with sustained action. Helping reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas—now and in the future—is an important part of that effort.  I am proud to reintroduce the American Gas for Allies Act to boost our federal response by working with our NATO allies to expedite the export of American Liquefied Natural Gas to help secure Europe’s energy supply and defense.”  

These bills, which were originally introduced during the 117th Congress were referred to their respective Committees for further action. Currently, the bills remain in Committee for further handling at this time.

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[1] S. Roman-White, S. Rai, J. Littlefield, G. Cooney, T. J. Skone, “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Perspective on Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas from the United States: 2019 Update,” National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh, September 12, 2019.