WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, spoke today during a hearing regarding the Small Scale LNG Access Act (S. 1981), legislation he introduced with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to expedite the approval of exports of natural gas equal to or less than 51.1 billion cubic feet per year.
The committee passed the bill with bipartisan support by a vote of 13-10.
“If you want to enable American job growth, you should support this legislation,” said Dr. Cassidy. “If you want to decrease global emissions, you should support this legislation. If you want greater renewable generation, you should support this legislation.”
“I applaud committee passage of the Small Scale LNG Access Act, which I co-authored with Sen. Cassidy. This legislation would strengthen an emerging sector of Florida’s economy, augment our existing ties with Caribbean and Latin American nations, and help reduce harmful emissions in those regions. Importantly, the bill would also ensure that nefarious actors, including Cuba and Venezuela, cannot benefit from expedited access to American energy exports without first demonstrating real commitments to human rights and democracy,” said Rubio.
A partial transcript of Cassidy’s remarks in committee is below.
CASSIDY: This legislation fixes a problem producers, manufacturers and exporters of small scale LNG projects face when contemplating new investments in the U.S. Navigating regulatory hurdles of exporting natural gas is expensive, especially for small volume projects. In a competitive, global LNG market, regulatory certainty is essential to attracting long-term foreign buyers.
Now, some are concerned, will we exhaust the amount that we have? According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States has an estimated 2,355 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas, enough to last an estimated 86 years. That estimate is with current, economically viable technology, thus that number will grow as new technologies are deployed.
A recent study by ICF International estimated the exportation—and by the way, this is about jobs. A recent study by ICF International estimated the exportation of U.S. LNG could create 452,000 jobs by 2040, adding $73.6 billion to annual GDP. This legislation removes uncertainty by allowing the Department of Energy to approve small scale LNG projects of 51.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year or less without modification or delay.
Why is this important? Due to our United States geography and the economics of small scale projects, Caribbean and Central American countries would be the likely destination for the newly exported natural gas. The Caribbean LNG export market represents a relatively untapped outlet as the United States only exported three billion cubic feet of natural gas to the region [in 2016].
Now, this is important for the environment. To date, Caribbean nations use minimal amounts of natural gas and non-hydro renewables to satisfy energy needs. Lack of energy diversity and security has left many Caribbean nations reliant on heavy-emitting Venezuelan fuel oil to keep lights on.
Now … if you look at this [Chart 1], on this bar graph, look how reliant these countries are on high-emitting fuels. The blue is coal or Venezuelan oil typically. And that is what these countries are using right now to power their grid.
For these 10 countries, it would reduce CO2 emissions by almost 26 million tons per year if they could replace those blue lines with our natural gas. [Chart 2]
Think about that. Using U.S. natural gas, replacing those blue lines of coal and oil, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 26 million tons per year, using American natural gas.
Now, for those who think we should instead be using renewables, this legislation makes that happen. The Caribbean currently has very limited non-hydro renewable generation. But if you look here [Chart 3], it has been shown by the National Bureau of Economic Research, for every one percent increase in fast reacting fossil technologies, there’s an associated almost .9 increase in renewable generation [capacity] in the long-term.
Renewables become practical when you have fast-acting gas as a backup. So we think that this would also achieve the goal of having renewables more widely deployed.
If you think that the Caribbean should have greater energy security, be less reliant on Venezuelan fuel oil, you should support this legislation.
If you want to enable American job growth, you should support this legislation.
If you want to decrease global emissions, you should support this legislation.
If you want greater renewable generation, you should support this legislation.