US congressman says natural gas is the solution to EU-Russia energy crisis

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As renewables associations in Europe line up to press political leaders to turn to renewables to reduce energy dependency on Russia, the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives has taken a different tack.

Responding to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s threat to turn off gas supplies to Ukraine unless it receives pre-payments for the fossil fuel, Fred Upton, chairman of the Congressional energy and commerce committee, said the ultimatum showed the need for the U.S. to ramp up liquid natural gas (LNG) exports.

In a statement released by Upton on Thursday, the Michigan congressman said: "Threatening to turn off the spigot of natural gas to Ukraine is nothing but extortion playing out on the global stage. This shameful act of defiance by Putin underscores the growing need for Congress to act on LNG exports."

Upton called for the House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress, to back what he called bipartisan legislation proposed by fellow Republican Cory Gardner to expand the export of LNG to World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries.

"Russia has chosen to wield its energy resources as a geopolitical weapon to inflict harm on others," added Upton in his statement. "As the world’s emerging energy superpower, America has a newfound responsibility to help our allies. I look forward to a strong vote on the House floor and urge the Senate to take action on this critical issue."

Raising the volume of LNG imported from the U.S. is one of the energy strategies being pursued by the U.K.’s coalition government, which is also placing faith in fracking unearthing new domestic shale gas reserves and in new North Sea oil investigation.