A bill that would authorize the U.S. State Department to subsidize the exporting of liquified natural gas (LNG) to Europe to counter Russia’s dominance in supplying natural gas to European markets was approved overwhelmingly by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 25. H.R. 1616, titled the “European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019,” had been introduced March 7 by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). The measure was fast-tracked out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and never had a hearing. A counterpart measure, S. 704, was introduced by Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) also on March 7 and is pending before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to which H.R. 1616 has also been referred.
The legislation has been touted as a measure needed to advance U.S. foreign policy interests in countering Russia’s influence in Europe. However, according to recent studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy and testimony presented to other congressional committees in recent months, the increase in LNG exports could double the domestic price of natural gas. Such consequences were not considered during the House consideration of H.R. 1616. Further, the artificial increase in LNG exports would become a further incentive to build unneeded natural gas pipelines, such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline.