Time to Remove Roadblocks to Energy Trade

The following was written by Congressman Joe Barton (TX-6):

America’s new found energy abundance creates incredible opportunities, but old laws are getting in the way of economic growth and the chance to strengthen security here and abroad.

Our nation is blessed with a bounty of natural resources, but until recently much of it remained out of reach. The men and women working in the oil and gas industry have developed new techniques to produce energy from unconventional sources, which gives us the opportunity to strengthen our domestic economy, increase our energy security, and help our friends and allies overseas who are not so lucky.

Now is the time to modernize laws passed decades ago that artificially restrict trade and distort energy markets and outdated laws governing natural gas exports is a good place to start. I am an original co-sponsor of a recently introduced piece of legislation, H.R. 6 - The Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, that will update the Natural Gas Act (a law passed more than 75 years ago) by eliminating the lengthy delays in approving liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities. It will also replace the archaic standard of review with a more rational approach that reflects our newly discovered wealth of energy.

Updating laws like the Natural Gas Act will send a clear signal that Congress is serious about keeping our commitment to free trade and helping Americans still struggling to find work. Look around the nation – the states seeing the most job growth are those producing the most new energy and we can create even more of these high paying jobs. Energy export facility construction projects waiting years for a decision will finally have a path forward. Billions of dollars in private sector investments, and the jobs that follow, could soon flow all over the country – instead of being confined to so-called energy states.

Allowing energy exports will also strengthen our security by encouraging future investment, which will allow the current pace of oil and natural gas production to continue and maybe even increase. The future is bright, but new technologies will be required and the U.S. should not risk losing our competitive edge by blocking the market signals that incentivize new investment and risk taking. This new energy revolution and the jobs it creates depend on it.

Energy trade, especially LNG, is also a powerful diplomatic tool. Today, we have the ability to push back against countries, like Russia, who use energy as a political weapon to strengthen their grip on their neighbors. We should counteract Russia’s natural gas monopoly by providing our allies with LNG. Even though our supplies won’t reach Europe’s shores immediately, updating our laws governing the export approval process will strengthen their ability to negotiate more fair gas contracts with Russia.

H.R. 6 is one of many ways Congress can act to unlock America’s treasure chest of energy, if the liberal obstructionists would just allow us to turn the key. The way to lower prices is American made energy for Americans, not more excuses. This is truly a win-win-win for our domestic economy, energy security, and foreign policy.


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