House Subcommittee Reports H.R. 6

The Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee met today and with minimal debate ordered H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, reported to the full Energy and Commerce Committee by a party-line vote of 15 to 11, with Republicans favoring the move and Democrats opposing it. Opening statements by members were made on Tuesday (April 8) and the subcommittee moved through the bill in less than 30 minutes.

H. R. 6 is sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and would amend the Natural Gas Act to provide expedited approval of applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to nations which are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Under current law, only exports destined for shipment to nations with which the United States has a free trade agreement (that includes natural gas) are expedited. Exports headed to other nations are subjected to a lengthy “public interest” review conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Only one amendment, by the Ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, Rep. Bobby Rush (IL), was considered during the markup. Rush’s amendment, which was adopted by a voice vote, would codify a requirement that the ultimate destination of the LNG be publicly disclosed. The ranking Democrat on the full committee, Rep. Henry Waxman (CA), supported Rush’s amendment and said that the language would not force any private company to disclose its contracts.

According to the news report from E&E: “Rush said his language would empower the DOE secretary to require companies to publicly divulge the destinations of proposed exports during the permitting process. He said companies building multibillion-dollar export terminals enter into supply contracts ‘way up front’ in the DOE permitting process. Rush suggested his measure would demystify the most recent calls to fast-track exports of LNG to countries like Ukraine.

“ ‘I’m not convinced [H.R. 6] would get any gas to Europe anytime soon,’ Rush said, adding that U.S. export terminals will take years to build and exports are already promised to Asian nations under long-term contracts. ‘My amendment is simply about truth in advertising.’ 

“Gardner and other Republicans dismissed assertions that LNG cannot be used to ease political tensions abroad, including those concerning Ukraine, and said U.S. allies have been coming to Capitol Hill ‘begging’ for DOE to speed up its approval process—even to send a signal to the markets that the United States is participating. ‘Opposing this legislation is like hanging up on a 911 call from our friends and allies,’ Gardner said.” Another committee member corrected Gardner, jesting: “No, it’s like putting them on hold for several years.”

American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard applauded the news: “Today’s vote is just the latest signal that momentum for action on natural gas exports is stronger than ever. In the last few weeks, new proposals have won bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and we are optimistic that members will come together on efforts to harness the full economic and strategic power of America’s energy exports. The U.S. is the world’s top producer of natural gas, and allies around the globe are looking to America for leadership on energy issues. Now is the time to tear down our own bureaucratic hurdles to trade, create thousands of new American jobs, and strengthen our position as an energy superpower.”