The Energy and Natural Resources Act: Updating the U.S. Energy Strategy for the New Age of Lng

By McKnight, Calvin | Houston Journal of International Law, Fall 2017 | Go to article overview

The Energy and Natural Resources Act: Updating the U.S. Energy Strategy for the New Age of Lng


McKnight, Calvin, Houston Journal of International Law


I. INTRODUCTION II. HOW WE GOT HERE       A. The U.S. is becoming a Net Exporter       B. Higher LNG Exports Drive U.S. Natural Gas          Exports III. Political Obstacles       A. The New Administration will play a Pivotal Role          in Modernizing the U.S. Energy Policy IV. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR LNG? V. THE IMPORTANCE OF UPDATING THE ENERGY POLICY WITH      THE ENRA      A. The ENRA has the Potential to Increase Revenue         for the U. S.      B. Environmental Concerns are addressed in the         Senate's ENRA      C. The U.S. has Ample Natural Gas Reserves and         Infrastructure to Supply for LNG Exporting      D. Benefit of Modern Energy Policies: The Ability to         supply Energy to Global Markets VI. CONCLUSION 

I. INTRODUCTION

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. (1)

As the United States transitions in the post-Obama era, so too will the country look to revamp its outdated energy policies. (2) With a country that seems divided by partisan lines, it appears that the term "energy" when mentioned also brings with it a dividing line among American citizens, U.S. businesses, and elected officials. Since the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, (3) the United States has progressed from fearing oil and gas shortages to becoming a world leading producer of both fuel sources. (4) The use of wind and solar power is increasing its market share as they become less expensive than fossil-fuels in some parts of the country. (5) President Obama's environmental regulations reformed energy usage as electric utility companies have closed coal-fired power plants and supplanted them with alternative sources, such as natural gas, but the nation's energy infrastructure has not kept pace with those changes. (6) With the abundance of shale gas in the U.S. and the possibly lucrative nature of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG), it is imperative that the U.S. modernize its energy policies in order to both optimize its potential and bridge the partisan divide through the Energy and Natural Resources Act (ENRA). (7)

On April 20, 2016, the Senate passed by a vote of 85-12 a bipartisan, broad-based energy bill, the Energy Policy Modernization Act (EPMA). (8) The EPMA focused on numerous forms of energy production and policies, including new rules intended to expedite the electric transmission infrastructure and both speed up and streamline the permit process for LNG terminals. (9) Just prior to the Senate bill, in December of 2015, the House of Representatives passed the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015 (H.R. 8), by a highly partisan vote, a substantial energy policy bill. (10) Both bills attempted to expedite the approval process for LNG export terminals. (11) However, the bills differ in many ways and the House bill was adversely split down partisan lines. (12) The two houses held caucuses between their respective energy committees to try and come to a resolution on the EPMA. (13) Ultimately, the two houses could not come to a resolution and the EPMA was not passed before the 2016 presidential election. Conversely, on June 27, 2017, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee introduced the EPMA"s successor, the ENRA, for expedited consideration in the Senate. (14) The new bill builds on the EPMA and adds additional considerations derived from previous progress within congress. (15)

This article explores the potential final product of the ENRA and its effects on the U.S. energy infrastructure, with a keen focus on the future of exporting LNG in the United States. Part II of this Article discusses the current state of the U.S. Shale gas and LNG markets and walks through the historical aspects of how the U.S. natural gas market has been shaped over the last few decades to arrive at the present state of the U.S. energy structure.

Part III will analyze the political challenges facing the ENRA and its final version by comparing and contrasting the act from the EPMA and the House bill, The North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act (H. …

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