Lawmakers: Gas exports could undercut US rivals Russia, Iran
Zack Colman - 05/07/13 05:00 AM ET
Lawmakers who back natural-gas exports are trying to woo skeptical Democrats by arguing the sales would boost American power at the expense of Russia and Iran.
Russia has long dominated the market for natural gas in the Eastern hemisphere, with Iran being another major supplier. But booming production in the United States presents an opportunity to undercut those countries by selling more natural gas abroad, including to allies like Japan and India, boosters say.
Supporters of increased exports are increasingly citing the geopolitical benefits as they try to win over Democrats, many of whom fear shipping more natural gas abroad would cause price increases back home.
The issue will be front and center on Tuesday during a hearing of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that will feature testimony from two former Democratic senators — Byron Dorgan (N.D.) and Bennett Johnston (La.).
Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), who serves on the subcommittee, said the geopolitical aspect of the export debate has the potential to bring the two parties together.
Terry was part of a bipartisan coalition of current and former lawmakers that met over the weekend with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. He said the Turkish officials indicated they would buy natural gas from the United States — instead of from Iran — if they had the option.
“He told us that, if the U.S. would sell them natural gas, then he would buy it today, and he wouldn’t have to buy it from anywhere else,” Terry said of Yildiz. “That’s a way we can shore up an ally in an unstable region that we need as an ally.”
The House hearing on Tuesday will touch on 20 proposals under Energy Department (DOE) review that would green light exports to nations that lack a free-trade agreement with the United States.