A Congressman representing Ohio's Utica Shale region has introduced a pair of bills designed to help significantly expedite U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

On Monday, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) introduced bills HR 4605 and 4606. Under the former, officially titled the Unlocking Our Domestic LNG Potential Act, domestic suppliers would be allowed to export LNG cargoes immediately upon completion of the review process conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Suppliers would no longer be required to wait for additional approval from the Department of Energy (DOE).

Meanwhile, the latter, also known as the Ensuring Small Scale LNG Certainty and Access Act, calls for codifying DOE's recent efforts to encourage quicker approval of small-scale LNG exports, especially to countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

Both bills have been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for consideration. HR 4605 was co-sponsored by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a bill similar to HR 4606 last October.

"The U.S. is currently the world's largest producer of natural gas, with trillions of cubic feet of recoverable natural gas beneath our feet," Johnson said. "We should be doing all we can to take advantage of this abundant resource, and it is my hope that these bills will help further that goal.

"It's critical that we take advantage of this opportunity we've been blessed with. There is no doubt that LNG exports are creating opportunities and improving the quality of life for hard working families in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio."

Last October, the Regulatory Reform Task Force reaffirmed a rule it first proposed last September, which called for DOE to issue an export authorization for any complete application that proposes exports of up to 140 MMcf/d, and which do not require an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Similarly, the Cassidy-Rubio bill calls for DOE to expedite any application to export up to 51.1 Bcf of natural gas per year, or 140 MMcf/d. The bill does not discriminate between countries that have a free trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S. and non-FTA countries.

The DOE task force's recommendation stems from an executive order (EO) signed by President Trump in late March. The EO called for, among other things, DOE and other government agencies to review all existing regulations and orders that could potentially hamper domestic energy development, including oil and natural gas.

Johnson's district covers the bulk of Ohio's portion of the Utica Shale. Specifically, the district includes all of 13 counties -- Belmont, Columbiana, Carroll, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Noble and Washington -- as well as parts of Athens, Mahoning, Muskingum, Scioto and Tuscarawas counties.

Morocco Interested in U.S. LNG

In related news, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt attended bilateral meetings in Morocco this week, in part to discuss the capital city of Rabat's interest in importing LNG from the U.S.

"These meetings allowed us to directly convey our priorities and best practices with Moroccan leaders," Pruitt said, adding that the meetings were also an opportunity to further talks around an environmental work plan between the two countries. "We are committed to working closely with countries like Morocco to enhance environmental stewardship around the world."

Morocco is the only African country with which the U.S. has an FTA.