September 18, 2013

Senators Landrieu, Wyden, Murkowski Introduce Bill to Promote US-Israeli Energy Collaboration

U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., along with Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources respectively, introduced the United States-Israel Energy Cooperation Enhancement Bill. This bipartisan legislation continues Sen. Landrieu's work to strengthen collaboration between the U.S. and Israel on energy development and bolsters that relationship by encouraging increased cooperation between the two countries' academic, business, governmental and other sectors. 

Israel recently discovered an estimated 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Leviathan field off its coast, bringing its total natural gas reserves to an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet. This may be able to satisfy Israel's domestic gas demand with enough left over to export for years to come. The U.S. and our domestic energy companies are eager to offer our expertise to help this critical ally develop these resources.

"With the discovery of the Leviathan field, Israel has the opportunity to achieve energy independence, boost its economy through natural gas exports and enhance its security. This is an incredible chance for the U.S. to share our energy expertise to support a critical ally, while creating economic opportunities here at home. Louisiana arguably has the most advanced offshore oil and gas industry in the world, and we are uniquely qualified to lead the effort to help Israel develop this resource."

"For several years I have been working to boost U.S.-Israel collaboration on energy development to further strengthen the relationship between our two countries and help our domestic energy industry - this legislation will continue to advance these important goals. Through energy collaboration, academic cooperation, and continued government dialogue, we will create jobs for our domestic oil and gas industry, support a critical ally in the Middle East in its quest for energy independence and security, and demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship. I thank Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Murkowski for their leadership on this issue and I will work with them to pass this important legislation," Sen. Landrieu said.

"This is legislation that will strengthen the special bond between the U.S. and Israel by increasing cooperation and dialogue on cutting-edge energy issues," Sen. Wyden said. "The U.S. should seize this opportunity to help Israel capitalize on a historic discovery of natural gas, and continuing to share research and best practices on a range of renewable and other energy technologies."

"This legislation will promote energy-related technological innovations and the energy security of Israel and the United States by ensuring a cooperative spirit between our governments, and the best and brightest of our experts. Cooperation with our closest ally in the Middle East is in our strategic interest and is especially important in light of recent discoveries of potentially major reservoirs of natural gas off of the coast of Israel," Sen. Murkowski said.

"The Alliance is thrilled to continue to work with Senator Landrieu on this important legislation. We are very proud of Senator Landrieu's extra efforts to build strong relations with Israel. We could not have been happier with the response of our Louisiana companies joining us on our historic trade mission. Our companies are among the best in the world in the energy industry. I believe our joint efforts will be instrumental in assisting Israel to build a robust energy industry and this legislation will be critical in that effort. We look forward to our next projects to support these efforts in the energy industry and other areas of common interest," David Conner, Vice President for Economic Development and International Commerce for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance said.

"The Chamber has long been an advocate of strengthening the regulatory and policy cooperation between the U.S. and Israel on energy issues, and Senators Landrieu, Murkowski, and Wyden have taken the necessary next steps to do just that," said Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice president and Head of International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "The American business community and the Chamber's U.S.-Israel Business Initiative are eager to advance a 21st century energy partnership between the United States and Israel that moves both countries toward a more stable energy future."

Sen. Landrieu has long been a leader in the effort to enhance U.S.-Israeli collaboration on energy development. In October 2011, Sen. Landrieu organized the first ever oil and gas trade mission to Israel with the help of the Department of Commerce and the critical work of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. The mission was such a success that the Department of Commerce worked with Sen. Landrieu to organize a similar trip in October of 2012 to continue this work.

In June 2012, Sen. Landrieu helped arrange a visit by a high-ranking delegation of Israeli officials to Washington, D.C., and Louisiana. The delegation met with Sen. Landrieu as well as former Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. The delegation also attended the Central Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale in New Orleans and visited Port Fourchon and the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility in Cameron Parish.

United States-Israel Energy Cooperation Enhancement Bill:

  • Recognizes energy cooperation between the two countries as a strategic interest of the United States;
  • Officially encourages collaboration between the United States National Science Foundation and the Israel Science Foundation;

  • Encourages collaboration between the two countries' academic communities in energy innovation technology, technology transfer, and analysis of geopolitical implications of new natural resource development;
  • Encourages business development engagement of the two countries private sectors;

  • Urges continued regular engagement between the two countries' relevant agencies, departments, and ministries to share best practices in a number of fields, including:

  • Regulatory best practices

  • - Cyber energy infrastructure
  • - Energy efficiency of water technologies (water desalination is an incredibly energy-intensive process, and is thus deeply linked to energy efficiency)
  • - Environmental management of deep water exploration
  • - Coastal protection and restoration
  • Expands already existing United States-Israel grant making joint programs
  • - Binational Industrial Research and Development Program (BIRD) and the Binational Science Foundation (BSF)
  • - to include projects focused on natural gas, which are expected given Israel's recent discoveries, entrepreneurial environment, and advanced hi-tech sector.

  • Reauthorizes these programs through the end of fiscal year 2024;

  • Allows cooperative agreements between the Department of Energy (including its National Laboratories) and the Government of Israel;

  • Allows for the authorization of a United States- Israel Center based in the United States to further dialogue, collaboration and academic cooperation in energy innovation technology, technology transfer, and geopolitical implications of new natural resource development

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