With the political season in full bloom as the November presidential election approaches, I never thought I would hear this word again – bipartisan. For those of you who may have forgotten, bipartisan is defined by Merriam-Webster.com as “of, relating to, or involving members of two parties ; specifically: marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties .” Agreement and compromise? Republicans and Democrats? The elephants and donkeys are holding hands? Pigs must be flying, and I must’ve slept through the rainfall of cats and dogs. So what issue brought the two parties together? Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Rep. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) issued a joint statement in August on a bipartisan letter sent to US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, requesting his department facilitate approval of LNG facilities across the US. The letter was signed by 10 Democrats and 34 Republicans from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. “It is time to bring a renewed sense of urgency to the approval process for LNG facilities, which are part of a successful all-of-the-above energy strategy,” Lankford said in the statement. “States like Oklahoma and Texas are prime examples of the success of natural gas use in the regional energy market. The federal permitting process currently stands in the way of energy companies distributing their products in a timely manner. Without the ability to market to international customers, this could have a severe impact on production in our region.” I agree wholeheartedly. “The promise and challenge of this surplus of natural gas is that it has resulted in extremely low prices for natural gas in our country,” Green said in the statement. “While this is great for our manufacturing sector, the price has dropped so low that many producers no longer find it economically viable to produce the resource, which could eventually raise the price of natural gas for our manufacturing sector. The approval of strategically located LNG facilities would provide the market opportunities to re-incentivize this production while ensuring a stable price and supply for feedstock.” I agree with that, too. The US consumed more natural gas than it produced in 2010, importing 2.6 Tcf from other countries, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) Energy Outlook 2012. However, considering domestic natural gas production is growing faster than consumption, predicted to be 0.4% annually from 2010 to 2035, the US is expected to be a natural gas exporter by 2022. The amount of natural gas exports is projected to reach 1.4 Tcf by 2035. Shale gas is expected to play a major role in these projections. And if technological advances are achieved, companies will be able to tap into even more shale gas. Already countries such as Mozambique and Australia are touting their future LNG potential as major exporters. If the US wants to have a chance at joining that race and becoming a top player, it must have cooperation from the federal government. And already companies are preparing to meet the growing demand of countries in other parts of the world, especially in Asia. Among them are Freeport LNG, which is awaiting government approval for its expanded terminal, and Sabine Pass LNG, which recently received needed permission to construct the first two liquefaction trains for its liquefaction project. The bipartisan letter is a good sign that politicians can work together. Maybe this bipartisanship will be spread to other issues. Don’t laugh or say “that’ll never happen.” Anything is possible. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at vaddison@hartenergy.com.