A group of 10 Democrat and 34 Republican members of Congress from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas on Tuesday sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu urging him to expedite the approval process for liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities.
"It is time to bring a renewed sense of urgency to the approval process for LNG facilities, which are part of a successful all-of-the-above energy strategy," said U.S. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) in a statement issued jointly with U.S. Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas).
The signatories represent states that have long produced oil and natural gas as well as products refined or manufactured from these fossil fuels for markets elsewhere in the United States. However, with the growth of production from major shale plays from Appalachia to the Rockies, abundant sources of oil and gas are now more widely dispersed domestically.
"[I]ncreased shale production in certain parts of the country require us all to think a little differently about this opportunity and about the need to allow producing areas the ability to seek international customers for a portion of their production," the letter stated.
"The federal permitting process currently stands in the way of energy companies distributing their products in a timely manner," Lankford said in the press release. "Without the ability to market to international customers, this could have a severe impact on production in our region."
"The promise and challenge of this surplus of natural gas is that it has resulted in extremely low prices for natural gas in our country," added Green.
"While this is great for our manufacturing sector, the price has dropped so low that many producers no longer find it economically viable to produce the resource, which could eventually raise the price of natural gas for our manufacturing sector. The approval of strategically located LNG facilities would provide the market opportunities to reincentivize this production while ensuring a stable price and supply for feedstock."
Although the 44-member group expressed gratitude that the Department of Energy has "started to review and issue licenses" for LNG exports, they remarked that DOE's process apparently lacks "a set timeline for decisions or a sense of urgency." "In our collective view, it is time to bring a renewed sense of urgency to the approval process," the letter stated.
On July 16, the DOE issued an updated list of the status of applications for LNG export projects from the Lower 48 States.
The entire Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma House delegations signed the letter. The names of all but four members of the Texas delegation -- Republicans Louie Gohmert and Michael T. McCaul and Democrats Lloyd Doggett and Eddie Bernice Johnson -- appear on the correspondence.
A spokesman for Gohmert said the congressman supports the contents of the letter but was out of the country and unable to sign it.
Rigzone has reached out to the other three officials to obtain their positions on the matter and will post them as they become available.
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