DENVER — Congressman Cory Gardner Thursday called on Sen. Mary Landrieu, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman, to take action on his bill to expedite liquified natural gas exports, which passed out of the House Wednesday with strong bipartisan support.
And Landrieu’s opponent, Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy who is challenging the incumbent Louisiana Democrat this fall, is joining him.
“Yesterday, we passed bi-partisan legislation that would expedite Liquified Natural Gas exports, growing our economy and creating jobs. This adds to a list of dozens upon dozens of pro-energy bills passed by the U.S. House this Congress,” Cassidy said in a release from Gardner.
“Harry Reid could and should stop the blockade of this legislation so that there is a full Senate vote, but he’s letting Senator Landrieu and Senate Democrats play for press releases. Holding anything but a full Senate vote on this legislation is taking a step backwards for political games. Our economy can’t afford more delays.”
Forty-six Democrats joined more than 200 Republicans in voting Gardner’s proposal to expedite liquified natural gas exports out of the House on Wednesday, a rare bipartisan vote on a measure with serious policy and political implications.
Gardner’s proposal would fast-track applications by energy companies looking to export liquefied natural gas to Europe and other lucrative markets like Japan, which could generate billions in additional revenue for the industry.
But the bill faces an uphill climb in the Senate, where another almost identical bill has been introduced by Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who Gardner is challenging this fall.
With Colorado a big producer of natural gas and their senate tilt expected to be one of the most competitive of the fall cycle, Udall and Gardner have both been bending over backwards to demonstrate leadership on this issue.
After Gardner entered the race in late February, Udall’s staff crowed after Gardner introduced his LNG export proposal a day after Udall introduced his.
At the time as tensions in Ukraine were rising, both lawmakers argued that their measures offered a win in terms of both the economic impact and foreign policy.
Last week, Udall unveiled his third version of the legislation with Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, signed on as a co-sponsor that would require the Energy Department to make a final national interest decision within 45 days of an environmental review being finalized.
In response, Gardner amended his bill to give DOE just 30 days to issue a final verdict.
According to a Bloomberg report, Landrieu said late Wednesday night that she’s planning to mark up Udall’s bill this summer, despite the fact that Gardner’s bill has already passed the House, with the support of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel nevertheless.
But it’s uncertain if any compromise can be reached on either bill given the politics and the Senate’s inability to advance any energy legislation without it getting derailed by efforts to attach partisan amendments related to the Keystone XL pipeline or new EPA climate change regulations.
Republicans will be reluctant to allow Udall’s measure — what one industry analyst termed “the Oil-State Democrat Reelection Act of 2014”; and Landrieu and senate Democrats, many of whom oppose the proposal to speed up LNG exports, will be equally careful about advancing any legislation that helps Gardner politically.
“Sen. Udall should capitalize on his new-found friendship with Chairwoman Landrieu and pressure Majority Leader Reid to bring our bipartisan LNG exports bill up for a vote in the Senate,” Gardner said Thursday.
“Relying on their supposed clout, Senators Udall and Landrieu shouldn’t have any trouble convincing Harry Reid to hold a vote, especially considering our legislation received the support of House Democratic leadership.”