WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Republican lawmakers urged the Obama administration on Tuesday to approve more ports for exporting surging supplies of natural gas, saying that fuel-thirsty countries could look to other producers if Washington does not act this year.
U.S. Representatives Fred Upton and Ed Whitfield, two Republicans, introduced a report that said the window of opportunity for U.S. natural gas exports will not remain open indefinitely.
President Barack Obama highlighted the role that natural gas has played in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in his State of the Union address last week. His Department of Energy, or DOE, has been considering more than 20 applications for companies to export natural gas to countries with which it does not have free trade agreements, such as Japan and India.
Republicans, however, are frustrated with the pace of approvals. The DOE has approved five applications since 2011, and the last one, for Freeport LNG, came in November.
"We are sending a friendly shot across the bow for DOE to take it up," Upton, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told reporters.
Approving more terminals could supplant the influence of other exporters such as Russia and Iran, strengthen national security and create jobs, the report said.
Iran has the world's second-largest natural gas reserves. The country has been slowly looking to boost exports of the fuel as its economy suffers from a slash in crude oil revenues resulting from U.S. and European sanctions seeking to cut funds to its nuclear program.
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