Cassidy: It’s Time To Fast-Track Natural Gas Exports

Indeed. From a press release just issued…

Congressman Bill Cassidy co-sponsored legislation to accelerate the approval process for Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) exports to our allies, which would likely include Ukraine. This would help to relieve nations that are potentially dependent on Russian fuel supplies by providing them with U.S. oil and gas. The Obama administration has cleared six applications to date, but 24 are still awaiting approval.

The Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, H.R. 6, would fast track pending LNG export applications for which a notice has been published in the Federal Register as of March 6, 2014. The legislation modifies the Department of Energy’s standard for review for future applications by changing the standard from Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries to World Trade Organization (WTO) members. Currently, countries without free trade agreements with the U.S. require an additional level of approval which often causes delay.

Dr. Cassidy released the following statement:

“Louisiana is a leader in energy production, and as a leader, it’s important we take advantage of our natural gas supply to strengthen our interests abroad and help our allies in times of need. Accelerating the permitting process to export liquid natural gas (LNG) will not only help nations like Ukraine receive these necessary resources, but it will strengthen Louisiana’s economy and bring more jobs to the region.”

From a geostrategic standpoint, exports of LNG to Europe are crucial. We’ve discussed that here at the Hayride in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, but it really needs to be a major piece of the conversation.

Russia uses the revenues it brings in from oil and gas to prop up the Putin regime – because they certainly don’t manufacture anything anybody wants to buy and they’re hardly a country anybody in their right mind will invest in – and they use the fact they hold such a huge portion of Europe’s energy supply as a knife to the throats of the Germans and French and others.

If supply from the U.S. can cut into or maybe even replace what the Russians provide, which is an intermediate-to-long-term project, admittedly, but that’s why you’d start now, it’s a game-changer.

And yet it’s Republicans like Cassidy who are talking about this. There were two pieces at National Review – one by Deroy Murdock and one by Robert Bryce – on this very issue just today.

If Democrats are talking about LNG exports as a piece of a Russia strategy we haven’t seen it. Instead, the DNC put out a talking-points memo last night accusing Republicans of “hypocrisy” on Ukraine…

· Republicans should put the blame for this crisis where it belongs: on President Putin. Instead, some seem intent on scoring political points. The United States should be united, and Republicans should work with us in a constructive way instead of attempting to undermine our leadership in a moment of international crisis.

· In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and leading Republicans didn’t blame the Bush Administration for Russia’s invasion of a neighbor, so it’s complete hypocrisy for them to attack the Obama Administration now.

· We all share the goal of standing up to Russia’s aggression and supporting the Ukrainian people – there’s no daylight there. And, frankly, many of the options that have been suggested by our critics are consistent with the policies we are already pursuing or considering. Or are they suggesting a military response?

· The United States has been deeply engaged in supporting the people of Ukraine. The people of Ukraine have rejected a corrupt, pro-Russian government, and chosen a democratic future in which they align more closely with the United States and Europe. That’s hardly a position of strength for President Putin.

· President Obama has strongly condemned Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, which is a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and international law. Over the last several days, the President has mobilized the international community to reject Russia’s actions. We secured strong statements from NATO and the G-7, expressing support for the Ukrainian people and isolating Russia. Together with our allies, we’ve announced additional support for the Ukrainian government. And today, together with our allies, we announced new sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty.

· There is still a way for Russia to resolve this crisis with the international community. Stop the military intervention in Ukraine. Let international monitors from the UN or OSCE verify that the rights of all Ukrainians are being respected. Join an international effort to de-escalate the situation. And engage directly with the government in Kyiv.

· Congress should act as soon as possible to provide assistance for the Ukrainian government. There is bipartisan support for action, and action is what we need right now – rhetoric is not enough.

· The goal we seek is clear: a de-escalation of this crisis; an end to Russia’s military provocations; international monitors on the ground; and a democratic future for the people of Ukraine.

· Not political posturing for the sake of scoring points instead of working towards a constructive solution.

Perhaps the writer of that memo is uninformed and not simply a bald-faced liar – because the Bush administration’s response to Putin’s Georgian adventures was to freeze relations with Russia on a whole host of fronts. No, we didn’t send troops and planes to the Georgians, but what Bush did was to send U.S. warships into the Black Sea, dock them at Georgian ports and use them to distribute humanitarian aid – and that was a relatively muscular symbolic in-your-face to Putin.

And the freeze in relations with Putin was the context in which Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conjured up the infamous “reset” of relations with the Russians – a “reset” that has been exposed as a complete failure with the Crimean invasion.

The accusation of weakness isn’t hypocrisy, of course. Obama had the example of Georgia to know who Putin was, and he nevertheless has spent six years showing weakness to the Russians – beginning with selling out the Czechs and the Poles who had put themselves in Putin’s crosshairs by agreeing to host the missile-defense sites Bush had planned.

What was that hot-mic “I’ll have more flexibility after the election” incident about, anyway?

There are solutions being offered along with the criticisms of Obama’s policies. Exporting natural gas is certainly one. If Obama and his allies at the DNC and on Capitol Hill are actually interested in doing something useful they’ll agree with Cassidy’s legislation rather than spend time trying to polish the president’s foreign-policy failures.

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