Capitol Hill was active in the energy security arena this week.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and responded to questions about the Keystone XL pipeline. Secretary Kerry said he is “staying as far away from that as I can” because the Keystone review process is not complete. Kerry will make the final decision, but he believes “it is not yet ripe” for him to do so. The review process continues on Thursday with the State Department’s public hearing on the pipeline in Grand Island, Nebraska.
In other news, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday. Poneman stated that DOE is nearly ready to make decisions on applications for the exportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG). These decisions will likely ultimately fall to Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Energy. Moniz has signaled support for natural gas, but has not yet been definitive on his position on LNG exports. Moniz received bipartisan support in a 21-1 vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday and will face a confirmation vote before the full Senate in the near future.
Both the Keystone XL and the LNG exportation decisions have profound implications for the geopolitics of energy. If Keystone XL is approved, Canadian oil could displace U.S. imports from other countries such as Venezuela, which could alter bilateral relationships. The approval of LNG export terminals in the United States could also impact global relationships. Europe, for example, could become less dependent on Russia for natural gas, which would lessen Russia’s leverage over European nations.
Keep an eye on these policy decisions over the coming months.