Senate Energy Bill Would Be a Win for Oregon

osba-logoBy Oregon Small Business Association,

With the Iowa caucus in the rear view mirror and all eyes looking ahead to next week’s New Hampshire primary, it’s easy to lose sight of what is a rare occurrence in Washington – bipartisanship. Specifically, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and currently being debated in the Senate. This legislation marks the first time since 2007 that Congress has set out to revamp the nation’s energy policies.

As such, the broad legislation encompasses everything from efficiency to infrastructure to conservation. And amongst all of that legislative language, there is one provision worth paying attention to: expediting the approval process for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports projects.

So why should Oregonians care about an energy bill? First off, in 2014, the U.S. passed Russia as the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas. That matters to our state, considering the industry supported over 60,000 jobs and contributed $5 billion to the economy in 2013. Supporting pro-growth energy policies, like the Senate’s LNG language and the overall bill, ensures our nation’s energy industry – and Oregon’s – continues to thrive as it supports and creates jobs.

Multiple reports, both from the private sector and government agencies, confirm that direct and indirect economic activity resulting from LNG exports is substantial and will benefit communities from coast to coast. In addition, through LNG exports the United States can provide a stable source of energy to our allies around the world who are dependent on not-so-friendly nation such as Russia for their energy needs.

However, holding us back from fully realizing these global and economic benefits is good old fashioned Washington, D.C. bureaucracy. Currently the Department of Energy has granted final approval to less than 10 U.S. LNG export facilities since 2012. What’s worse is that some applications have been pending in a bureaucratic abyss for the same amount of time.
The LNG language in the Energy Policy Modernization Act would break those applications free from the bureaucracy and restructure the approval process by requiring the Secretary of Energy to decide on an application no later than 45 days after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has concluded its review.

With the Senate debate on this ambitious bill continuing in Washington this week, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley should lend their wholehearted support and show that Democrats and Republicans are indeed capable of coming together for the good of the nation.

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