FERC and FE oversight committee approved LNG export legislation for non-FTA countries

Should we let Congress authorize blanket LNG export to 159 WTO member countries, including China and Ukraine, so fossil fuel companies can profit by taking our lands to pipe fracked methane to Florida? If not, it’s time to call your House member.

After approval by its Subcommittee on Energy and Power, which is the oversight committee for both FERC and the U.S. DoE’s Office of Fossil Fuels, both of which can authorize LNG export, the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee voted yesterday to send to the full House of Representatives H.R. 6, “A BILL To provide for expedited approval of exportation of natural gas to World Trade Organization countries, and for other purposes.” That bill would add to Section 3(c) of the Natural Gas Act ( 15 U.S.C. 717b(c) ), which currently reads:

(c) Expedited application and approval process

For purposes of subsection (a) of this section, the importation of the natural gas referred to in subsection (b) of this section, or the exportation of natural gas to a nation with which there is in effect a free trade agreement requiring national treatment for trade in natural gas, shall be deemed to be consistent with the public interest, and applications for such importation or exportation shall be granted without modification or delay.

This is what H.R. 6 would add:

(2) For purposes of this subsection, the term World Trade Organization member nation means a country described in section 2(10) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act ( 19 U.S.C. 3501(10) ).

Why so coy? What does The Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994 say?

(10) WTO member and WTO member country.—The terms “WTO member” and “WTO member country” mean a state, or separate customs territory (within the meaning of Article XII of the WTO Agreement), with respect to which the United States applies the WTO Agreement.

OK, so who are the WTO members? More like what countries aren’t WTO members, because that would be a shorter list. Here’s WTO’s own list of 159 members, including China, and yes, Ukraine, which helps explain H.R. 6 author Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO)’s bragging about Ukraine.

Here’s who voted on H.R. 6 in that Committee. Both John Barrow (GA-12) and Kathy Castor (FL-14) voted Nay. They’re the only Committee members from Alabama, Georgia, or Florida.

For that matter, compare the vote to the Committee membership by party and every Democratic Committee member who voted on that bill voted Nay, and every Republican who voted voted Yea, so Gardner’s claim of bipartisan support appears to be untrue. Which makes me wonder what other claims about this bill are untrue?

Two things that would appear to be true if H.R. 6 passes:

  1. Companies such as Carib Energy that have applied for non-FTA LNG export authorization wouldn’t have to bother: they’d all automatically be authorized by that new law.
  2. Could Sabal Trail fracked methane go to China? Why hell yes!

As Major T.J. “King” Kong said in Dr. Strangelove (before he rode a nuclear bomb down against the Rooskies:

Well, I’ve been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones.

Unlike Major Kong, I don’t think it’s our patriotic duty to ride the fossil fuel bubble until it pops, and it’s not a very good weapon against the Rooskies, anyway. Getting on with solar power for real energy independence and technology export would be a much better victory.

Read one more paragraph in the current text of the Natural Gas Act:

(d) Construction with other laws

Except as specifically provided in this chapter, nothing in this chapter affects the rights of States under—

(1) the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.);

(2) the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.); or

(3) the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.).

There is something local and state governments can do: insist on enforcement of those laws and of local zoning ordinances.

And even before that, this travesty H.R. 6 bill is going to the full House, so contact your Congress member.


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