Bill aimed at expediting natural gas exports passes

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WASHINGTON — Continuing its charge on energy, the Republican-controlled House on Wednesday passed a bill aimed at expediting approvals of natural gas exports.

In a 277-133 vote, the House approved a bill giving the Energy Department a 30-day deadline to authorize natural gas exports from facilities after they are reviewed and approved.

It’s the third energy-related bill passed by the House this Congress. They’ve also approved bills authorizing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and fast-tracking new natural gas pipelines.

“Unfortunately, our nation’s energy infrastructure, mired in red tape and an outdated permitting process, has failed to keep up with today’s growing pace of energy production,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., a state which has received three approvals to export natural gas from the DOE.

Congressman John Fleming, R-Minden, voted in favor of the act.

“It’s time to cut the federal red tape that’s holding back our exportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG),” Fleming said. “There’s a backlog of LNG export project applications that are stalled by Department of Energy (DOE) bureaucrats.”
Fleming said the House vote forces DOE to do its job and make decisions.

“An estimated 45,000 jobs hang in the balance with the construction of new projects that are awaiting approval,” he said. “For the good of our economy and our energy independence, the Senate and President Obama need to move this common sense bill into law quickly.”

While stopping short of threatening to veto the bill, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said it was “totally unnecessary.”

The natural gas boom has revived a push for liquefied natural gas exports from coastal terminals. Nearly all U.S. natural gas exports today are by pipeline to Mexico and Canada.

More than three dozen applications to build export terminals are pending and have yet to reach the Energy Department. DOE has authorized natural gas exports from four projects.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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