Udall, Gardner campaigns spar over competing natural gas export bills

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Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, sparred Thursday over competing efforts to increase exports of natural gas in response to the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

DENVER — With Congressman Cory Gardner, who entered the U.S. Senate race last week, focusing almost exclusively on Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s support for Obamacare, it’s no surprise that Udall’s campaign is looking to focus on other issues.

On Thursday, that issue was natural gas.

Udall’s campaign sent out an email noting two news stories this week related to natural gas exports, suddenly a hot topic amidst rising tensions in Ukraine after Russia’s gas-export monopoly said it would stop selling natural gas to Ukraine for a discount rate.

Ukraine would basically go cold without natural gas from Russia, hence the urgency from Washington as the conflict in the region escalates.

The first story via POLITICO reported that Udall introduced legislation on Wednesday “to make it easier to export natural gas to countries including Ukraine”, also noting that “the House Energy and Commerce Committee is working on its own legislation.”

The second story from Roll Call Thursday reported that Gardner, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “will introduce a bill on natural gas exports Thursday.”

The subject of the email from Udall campaign spokesman Chris Harris: “The sincerest form of flattery…”

Harris’s contention: that Gardner is following Udall’s lead on the issue.

“Coloradans understand that our natural gas creates jobs and helps move us toward a renewable energy economy, but it also has a role to play promoting global security,” Harris told FOX31 Denver. “That’s why Mark has pushed for years to expand Colorado’s ability to export liquified natural gas — and it’s why he introduced legislation this week to ensure we can send this resource to all of our allies abroad.

“He welcomes the support of any and all Republicans who want to follow his lead.”

Gardner’s campaign responded, taking issue with the notion that Udall, an avid outdoorsman whose wife is a long-time environmental advocate now leading theClimate Reality Project, is somehow more supportive of the natural gas industry than Gardner.

“Apparently Senator Udall believes the dangerous situation in Ukraine is nothing more than a drinking game,” Alex Siciliano, Gardner’s campaign spokesman, told FOX31 Denver Thursday.

“And as is his Washington trademark, is late to the issue. Cory Gardner has been supporting and working on LNG exports for years. He has written letters, participated in legislation and hearings, and is a member of the LNG export bipartisan caucus.”

Gardner’s campaign also blasted out a full press release responding to the Udall campaign’s email.

“Taking a sudden political interest during an election year is not how Coloradans define leadership,” Siciliano continued in the email blast.

Gardner is definitely considered a strong supporter of the natural gas energy and has been outspoken in his support for the Keystone XL pipeline, which Udall opposes.

Gardner has taken roughly $425,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry since his election to Congress in 2010, the most from any industry.

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