Natural-gas exports bill heads to U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., to speed up liquefied natural-gas export facilities heads to the Senate after passing the House.

H.R. 6 passed the House in a vote of 266-150 on Wednesday. The measure requires the Department of Energy, when evaluating an application of a liquefied natural-gas facility capable of processing gas for shipment to other countries, to make a final decision within 30 days of a required environmental review.

Gardner said the legislation would provide the nation’s allies with natural gas while creating “tens of thousands of jobs” nationwide.

Colorado produced 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas last year, down from 1.7 trillion cubic feet in 2012. Last year, Weld County ranked No. 3 in the state with 302.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas production. Garfield County ranked No. 1 with 649.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas, followed by La Plata County with 356.5 billion cubic feet of gas.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who faces a challenge from Gardner for his Senate seat in the November midterm election, has introduced similar legislation in the Senate. Udall’s measure calls for a decision by the energy department within 45 days of an environmental review.

The Department of Energy has approved just two natural-gas terminals, one in Louisiana and another in Oregon. Five more have received approval on the condition that they clear environmental reviews.

Supporters say liquefied natural-gas exports would create jobs and generate additional economic activity. The American Petroleum Institute estimates that Colorado would gain almost 11,400 jobs and $1.8 billion in income by 2035 through the exports.

Gov. John Hickenlooper also backs liquefied natural-gas exports. Along with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Hickenlooper signed a letter earlier year this year urging the energy department to approve liquefied natural-gas export facilities.

“The construction and operation of LNG export terminals and increased exploration and production activity will support thousands, if not many times that, of jobs and billions in investment at a time when such a free-market stimulus is so desperately needed,” the letter reads.

Opponents cite environmental degradation and increased gas prices among their concerns about gas exports. Environmentalists say that exporting gas will lead to increased emissions associated with oil and gas drilling.

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