Thomas Catenacci, DCNF
- More than two dozen Republican senators wrote Thursday to President Joe Biden, calling for him to boost domestic natural gas (LNG) production and exports amid increasing Russia-Ukraine tensions.
- “We are concerned by recent attempts to restrict liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States to our European allies amid rising tensions caused by Russia,” the senators wrote.
- On Feb. 2, 10 Democrats led by Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed wrote to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, urging the opposite of the Republican senators.
- Russia controls nearly 46% of European gas imports, according to European Union data.
More than two dozen Republican senators wrote Thursday to President Joe Biden, calling for him to boost domestic natural gas (LNG) production and exports amid increasing Russia-Ukraine tensions.
The lawmakers argued that Biden should boost domestic LNG production to supply Europe, which is currently dependent on Russia for its gas, according to the letter led by Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Republican effort was also in response to a call from Senate Democrats for Biden to temporarily ban LNG exports.
“We are concerned by recent attempts to restrict liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States to our European allies amid rising tensions caused by Russia,” the senators wrote. “Specifically, the misguided request made by several of our colleagues in a February 2nd letter runs counter to ongoing efforts to assist our allies in pivoting their energy supply chains away from Russia.”
On Feb. 2, 10 Democrats led by Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed wrote to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, urging the opposite of the Republican senators. The Democrats, mainly representing New England states, argued that the U.S. should focus on lowering natural gas prices and home heating costs for Americans before exporting supply abroad.
In response, the fossil fuel industry group American Petroleum Institute said higher costs in New England were caused by officials neglecting to invest in LNG infrastructure for years. The group said that LNG exports were critical for global stability, an argument made also by the GOP senators Thursday.
“Increased production and export volumes of U.S. natural gas encourage developing nations to use a cleaner fuel source. Investing in domestic oil and gas production creates U.S. jobs,” the Thursday letter continued. “It lowers domestic and global emissions.”
“It also increases U.S. energy security and makes us essential to the energy security of others,” the Republicans wrote. “We ask that you please consider these factors in your ongoing efforts to facilitate the supply of energy commodities to our allies and partners, while simultaneously securing clean and reliable energy domestically.”
Russia controls nearly 46% of European gas imports, according to European Union data. But the nation has shown that it is willing to manipulate supplies for geopolitical reasons.
On Jan. 25, the White House announced it would help facilitate greater non-Russian natural gas flows into Europe as tensions increased in the region. Such imports would come from North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the U.S.
“A disruption in the physical energy supplies transiting Ukraine would, clearly, most acutely affect natural gas markets in Europe,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters in January.
A whopping 75% of U.S. natural gas exports went to Europe in January, Reuters reported Tuesday. By comparison, in 2021, a majority of exports were sent to Asia, not Europe, U.S. data showed.
While the majority of Senate Republicans joined the letter Thursday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul previously criticized lawmakers who sought to sanction a direct Russia-to-Europe gas pipeline. He argued such senators are “largely from states that compete in the sale of natural gas.”
Energy Committee Ranking Member John Barrasso, Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch, Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito, Armed Services Ranking Member Jim Inhofe and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker were among the 27 Republicans to sign the letter Thursday.
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