Lugar: US should let NATO allies tap natural gas exports

Lugar bill would give NATO allies more leverage in energy supply negotiations with Russia

From Roberta Rampton, Reuters:  The U.S. Congress should give European allies access to burgeoning supplies of U.S. natural gas, Republican Senator Richard Lugar said on Wednesday, proposing a new law that he said would improve energy security in a critical region.

Lugar, the veteran top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said his bill would advance U.S. interests by helping allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) reduce their dependence on natural gas from Russia, and also would help Turkey wean itself from Iranian supplies.

"My legislation would place NATO allies on equal footing with free trade partners under U.S. law in providing for automatic licenses for U.S. (liquefied natural gas) exports," Lugar said in a letter to the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee.

Lugar said increased U.S. exports would augment but not replace the need for the so-called "Southern Corridor" pipeline system to move natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and Europe. . . .

Russia supplies more than 60 percent of natural gas imports for countries like Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Moldova, Turkey and Ukraine.

But Russia’s "astonishingly antagonistic policies" with gas contracts — including cutting supplies to Ukraine in 2006 and 2009 — have raised major policy concerns, Lugar’s report said.  (photo: EPA)

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