Legislation proposed by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, would establish a strategic energy portfolio at the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) focused on financing natural gas and civil nuclear energy infrastructure projects.
Natural gas projects receiving loans, guarantees and insurance through the portfolio would "facilitate increases in exports of United States energy commodities, such as regasification terminals," according to the proposed Strategic Energy for America (SEA) Act of 2019.
The legislation would also reauthorize EXIM through 2031. In addition, it would enable the Development Finance Corporation, which is scheduled to begin operations by the end of this year, to support civilian nuclear energy projects in developing countries, and would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to oppose any energy-specific restrictions imposed by multilateral development banks.
"In this era of strategic energy competition, we must strengthen our tools of statecraft through a rational, long-term approach," Murkowski said. "What I have released today outlines the means to continue growing our nation's energy dominance. American companies and workers participate in highly competitive global energy markets that are often dominated by cartels, state-owned enterprises, and trade finance agencies in other countries, and we cannot unilaterally disarm."
In a white paper released last month Murkowski spelled out reasons to bolster funding of gas and nuclear projects.
"Natural gas liquefaction and regasification facilities require decadal contracts, billions of dollars, and years of permitting and construction. Potential customers, with which strategic relationships already exist, “abound in the Indo-Pacific region," Murkowski said in the white paper.
"Civil nuclear projects are impossible without diplomatic agreements and often require substantial government-backed financing. The relationships that develop from such projects provide decades of further partnership," Murkowski said.