March 24 (Bloomberg) -- North Dakota is a long way from Ukraine: the two are separated by more than 5,000 miles.
Someday, though, fuel pumped from the state’s Bakken shale may help erode Russia’s influence over the former Soviet satellite.
Three congressional committees this week take up the issue of whether removing impediments to U.S. exports can be an effective geopolitical weapon to punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea.
With hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling unlocking reserves in shale rock formations such as the Bakken, driving up oil and gas production and decreasing U.S. reliance on foreign fuel, Republicans and a few Democrats in Congress want the limits on overseas sales lifted.
U.S. resources can “break Russia’s energy grip over Ukraine and other European countries,” says Representative Ed Royce, a California Republican and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Royce’s panel will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. tomorrow on the “geopolitical potential” of rising U.S. energy production.
Dennis Blair, a retired admiral and a member of Securing America’s Energy Future, and Harold Hamm, president and chief executive officer of Continental Resources Inc., the most active driller in North Dakota, are scheduled to testify.
The House Energy and Commerce’s energy and power subcommittee, meanwhile, is reviewing a bill to expedite U.S. approval of applications to export natural gas, including nations in Europe that get 30 percent of their fuel from Russia. The hearing is at 1:30 p.m.
In the Senate, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee under new Chairman Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from oil-rich Louisiana, is also examining U.S. energy exports tomorrow, at a hearing that starts at 10 a.m.
Witnesses include Adam Sieminski, administrator to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and Jaroslav Neverovic, Lithuania’s energy minister. Neverovic will appeal to the U.S. to accelerate natural gas exports. Now Lithuania imports all of the gas it uses from Russia.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a Bloomberg Government interview last week that the U.S. will consider the turmoil in Ukraine as it reviews applications to export natural gas. There is little the administration can do, however, to accelerate the construction of the export terminals, which cost billions of dollars, Moniz said.
ALSO WORTH WATCHING:
BUDGET REVIEW: House Appropriators examine the Interior Department’s budget request at a 1:30 p.m. hearing tomorrow. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, whose agency oversees energy development on federal lands, including the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska’s coast, will testify. The energy and water development subcommittee reviews the Energy Department’s science budget for fiscal year 2015 at 2 p.m. The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget is the subject of a Thursday, 10 a.m. hearing.
ELECTRIC GRID: The Environmental and Energy Study Institute hosts a discussion Wednesday on the state of the nation’s high-voltage electricity transmission network. Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission head James Hoecker leads a discussion among analysts and consultants and FERC’s current director of policy development, Jeff Dennis. The event takes place at 2 p.m. in the Visitors Center in the U.S. Capitol.
RENEWABLE FORUM: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks at the American Council on Renewable Energy forum Friday at 11:15 a.m. followed by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz at 3:45 p.m. The meeting starts with speeches from Representative Sander Levin, a Michigan Democrat and ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and member of the Senate environment panel, at 8:45 a.m.
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