A sensible LNG plan

June 24, 2013

By Houston Chronicle

First things first. We're glad Ted Poe is alive and well.

The Republican congressman from Humble had a genuine scare last week when popcorn became lodged in his throat and the blockage threatened to choke him to death.

Thanks to the quick action of a U.S. House staffer who is a licensed physician, the Heimlich maneuver was properly executed and the offending kernel was dislodged just in time, witnesses say.

We feel certain that the likable Poe will now become a walking public service announcement for broader public education in learning the Heimlich maneuver. We encourage him in the effort.

But the choking episode is merely a coincidental back story to this editorial, which we write in support of Rep. Poe's efforts to speed up the glacial bureaucratic process for approving terminals to export liquefied natural gas.

The Department of Energy's decision to act on only two of 18 requests for permits in three years is choking off opportunities for U.S. natural gas producers to export their product to a global market.

The delay in approving these permits is coming as other energy rich nations such as Russia and Australia are seeking to cut in line in front of U.S. producers, especially in booming Asian markets.

This appears to us to be yet another case where the level of information in Washington lags reality in the field. As Poe noted on Thursday's Outlook page ("Old energy laws are hampering our natural gas exports," Page B7), the federal permitting process is hamstrung by regulations dating back to 1938 and a failure, or deliberate lack of willingness, to recognize that technology has made available an abundance of domestic gas in the past four to five years.

While the DOE is twiddling its thumbs, our global competitors are working double-time to beat us to the marketplace.

The price in good paying jobs, and economic growth is staggering.