Crisis in Ukraine renews push for U.S. LNG exports

Russia’s actions in Ukraine are further fueling bipartisan calls — including by U.S. Sen. Mark Udall — for expediting liquefied natural gas exports from the United States, something that could have a bearing on gas development on the Western Slope.

Those calls follow military aggression by Russia into Ukraine, which both uses gas supplied from Russia and serves as a transport route for that gas into other countries. Russia’s actions are prompting concern about the reliance of Ukraine and other countries on Russian gas and the potential for Russia to disrupt supplies as it has in the past.

Udall, D-Colo., said in a news release Tuesday that the situation shows the need to use natural gas reserves in Colorado and across the country as one means of countering Russian aggression. He said he will continue to press the Department of Energy to expedite natural gas exports through the swift approval of more liquefied natural gas terminals.

“When foreign powers like Russia are able to exploit their monopoly on energy exports to coerce their neighbors, it weakens the international community’s ability to promote stability and avert conflicts,” Udall said. “This international crisis sharply illustrates how Colorado can play a leading role in exporting natural gas and promote global security and stability.”

Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner also are calling for expedited export approvals.

“The United States has abundant supplies of natural gas — an energy source that is in demand by many of our allies — and the U.S. Department of Energy’s excruciatingly slow approval process amounts to a de facto ban on American natural gas exports that Vladimir Putin has happily exploited to finance his geopolitical goals,” Boehner said in a news release Tuesday.

Federal law generally requires exports to be approved if they involve nations with free trade agreements with the United States, and in other cases unless the DOE finds they are inconsistent with the public interest. Last year 11 Democratic U.S. senators, including Udall and fellow Coloradan Michael Bennet, signed a letter calling for expedited approvals, and were joined by 23 Republicans in doing so.

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership is funding research on the economic potential for drilling in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin if proposed export terminals are approved. Local drilling has been slowed in recent years due to abundant domestic gas supplies and low prices.

Last week, a California company, Energy & Environment Inc., said it was considering opening a liquefied natural gas plant in the Grand Valley.


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