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H.R. 6772 (117th): Expediting Natural Gas Exports to Allies Act

In the words of Game of Thrones“Winter is coming.” What will that mean for the war in Ukraine?


In November, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg accused Russian President Vladimir Putin “using winter as a weapon of war.” As temperatures fall below freezing, Russia is directly attacking Ukraine’s heating, power grid, and electrical infrastructure.

Russia is also hoping that as temperatures plummet, many nations which have maintained a Russian oil embargo since shortly after the invasion — including the U.S. and most countries in Europe — will cave and reverse that decision.

As a result, increased consideration is now being given to congressional legislation on the topic which was actually introduced a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, when a potential invasion appeared imminent as Russia amassed 100,000+ on the border.

What the legislation does

The Expediting Natural Gas Exports to Allies Act would speed up the process by which the U.S. can give liquefied natural gas to certain other partner nations — most importantly Ukraine, but including many other notable countries as well:

The legislation would exempt any nation subject to U.S. sanctions or trade restrictions.

The Senate version was introduced on February 16 as S. 3661, by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). The House version was introduced two days later on February 18 as H.R. 6772, by Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX23).

Russia would invade Ukraine not long after, on February 24.

What supporters say

Supporters argue the legislation would simultaneously assist America’s overseas allies and punish its enemies, at a time of heightened tensions with Russia and China in particular.

“Too many of our allies have allowed themselves to become dangerously dependent on Russian natural gas,” Sen. Rubio said in a separate press release. “Expediting the approval of U.S. natural gas exports to allies and strategic partners is a common sense step to reduce our allies’ economic reliance on strategic adversaries, while creating more jobs for Americans at home.”

“As we see global tensions increase between Russia and our allies, it’s imperative that we reduce global reliance on energy from all of America’s adversaries,” Rep. Gonzales said in a press release. “Increasing natural gas exports will encourage the use of a cleaner fuel source, improve national security, and create American jobs.”

(Is natural gas indeed “a cleaner fuel source”? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas produces fewer air pollutants and CO2 than coal or oil, though it still has environmental concerns like methane leaks. And natural gas produces about 42x more CO2 per kilowatt-hour than some renewable resources like wind power.)

What opponents say

Opponents counter that the U.S. should be hesitant about exporting more liquified natural gas because of the price effect it would have on domestic consumers.

“In its 2021–2022 Winter Fuels Outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that energy costs for natural gas-fueled homes will increase by 30 percent over the course of this winter,” 10 Democratic senators wrote in a February letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. “Homes in colder regions, such as New England and the Midwest, will see even larger increases in their heating bills.”

“When establishing U.S. LNG [liquefied natural gas] export policies, we understand there are geopolitical factors and global and regional markets to consider. This includes recent calls for U.S. exporters to provide additional volumes of natural gas to Europe amid increased threats of a Russian supply disruption,” the letter continued. “However, the Administration must also consider the potential increase in cost to American families because of higher export volumes.”

Odds of passage

The House version has attracted nine cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Senate version has attracted two cosponsors, both Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Odds of passage are low in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Last updated Dec 14, 2022. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 16, 2022.

Expediting Natural Gas Exports to Allies Act

This bill revises the approval process for applications to export natural gas. Specifically, the bill expedites the approval process for certain U.S. allies, such as Taiwan and Ukraine. However, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may not grant expedited approval for applications to export natural gas to any nation that is (1) subject to sanctions or trade restrictions imposed by the United States, or (2) designated by acts of Congress from such expedited approval for reasons of national security.