A bipartisan group of Senators has proposed legislation to expedite approval of LNG exports to NATO members, Japan, and to any other country to which the Secretaries of State and Defense determine export would promote U.S. national security interests. Currently, Section 3(c) of the Natural Gas Act requires expedited approval for export requests to countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement. There are 18 countries that meet this standard for expedited approval, while requests to other countries have been held up in a lengthy review processes with significant doubts over whether approval will ever be granted. The Senate bill, called the Expedited LNG for American Allies Act of 2013 (S. 192), would broaden the scope of countries that will receive expedited treatment in the DOE review process.

Supporters of the bill have emphasized both the economic and national security benefits of the bill. The shale gas revolution in the U.S. has generated an oversupply of domestic natural gas, which has reduced the price precipitously. Without adequate market demand for these supplies, incentives for further production will erode, and the potential environmental and economic benefits of increased natural gas usage will go unrealized. Additionally, allowing export of natural gas will reduce the political leverage that Russia is able to exert on NATO allies in Europe because of those countries’ current dependence on Russian natural gas supplies.

The bill was introduced by Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Inhofe (R-OK), and Cornyn (R-TX), and is cosponsored by Senators Begich (D-AK), Coburn (R-OK), Enzi (R-WY), Heitkamp (D-ND), Hoeven (R-ND), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT), Vitter (R-LA), Boozman (R-AR), and Blunt (R-MO).