Editor's note: Please see the expanded disclosure below about the author and his involvement in the pipeline industry.
In recent weeks, geopolitical uncertainties have sent tremors through international energy markets, underscoring just how fragile countries' access to critical resources are. With Saudi Arabia and its allies cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, global access to the country's bounty of natural gas supplies has come into question – and as the Washington Post recently indicated, "Qatar wields a potential economic weapon if the crisis escalates and countries around the world that depend on its supply may find themselves needing to side with the tiny nation."
With domestic supplies of natural gas more accessible than ever, the U.S. has the opportunity to provide allies around the world with a more reliable supply of energy resources. Congress has the chance to move on this opportunity when it takes up President Trump's proposed budget package, which includes $1 trillion in a public-private partnership of infrastructure spending.
The White House's plan, though far from perfect, touches on many of the trappings Democratic leaders and Republican leaders alike have long worked toward. The framework will create construction jobs to put Americans back to work, and, importantly, it makes a partner of the private sector to help shoulder investment costs.
That commitment is delivering tangible results in places like Ohio, where the Rover natural gas pipeline has created more than 10,000 construction jobs. Forecasts show the project will generate $147 million in property tax revenue during its first year of operation. At the same time, it will provide better access to affordable energy and help to alleviate U.S. dependence on foreign oil supplier — which provides the United States a powerful chip during international negotiations. Policymakers, from the federal level down to states and municipalities, should embrace these opportunities, not stand in their way.
And while the U.S. is taking positive steps toward developing and transporting its domestic energy resources, major obstacles still remain in our ability to provide those goods to foreign markets around the world. Antiquated regulations that hinder the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are slowing efforts by American energy companies to construct export facilities. Congress, then, has the opportunity to facilitate the permitting and approval of U.S. LNG projects, simultaneously spurring economic activity on the home front and supporting strategic allies with an alternative to less stable energy supplies.
Although it's anyone's guess as to the final outcome of the Qatar quarantine, the incident serves as a timely reminder of the need to diversify supplies of energy resources — starting with natural gas produced right here in the U.S. Elected officials in our nation's capital and across the country have the opportunity to maximize our resources by both bolstering the pipelines, roads, and bridges that facilitate our ability to produce LNG as well as the means by which we export those goods. Through the sensible regulation of LNG exports, Congress can bolster our reputation as a global force of good.
Retired Maj. Gen. James 'Spider' Marks is a Strategic Advisor to Grow America's Infrastructure Now (GAIN), a coalition of oil and infrastructure businesses involved in pipeline development. He is also the chairman of the advisory board at TigerSwan, a security company involved in security for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
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