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U.S. CONGRESSMAN BILL JOHNSON Proudly Representing Eastern and Southeastern Ohio

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Ohio could play a role in solving Ukraine crisis

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Alliance, May 28, 2014 | comments
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, representing the sixth district of Ohio, said the U.S. could loosen the economic stronghold Russia has on Ukraine and several European nations by getting into the oil exports game.
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Alliance Review
By Amadeus Smith
Published May 28, 2014

Ohio could play a big role in resolving the crisis in Ukraine.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, representing the sixth district of Ohio, said the U.S. could loosen the economic stronghold Russia has on Ukraine and several European nations by getting into the oil exports game.

And Ohio would most likely provide much of the oil.

“Many experts believe Marcellus and Utica to be the largest reservoirs of oil and gas in the world,” said Johnson, who sits on the U.S. House’s Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee.

Michael Grossman, an associate professor of political science and international studies at the University of Mount Union, said 80 percent of Russia’s oil lines run through Ukraine. Bulgaria and Romania get about half of their gas and oil from Russia. And Italy and Germany depend on Russia for about a third of their gas and oil.

But it’s not just a need for oil that’s keeping countries tied to Russia through the crisis.

Several oil companies from countries such as Italy, Austria and even the U.S. have partnerships with Russia’s top oil companies.

Exxon Mobil, for instance, has worked with Rosneft, one of Russia’s leading oil companies, on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Grossman said such companies have been opposed to the push for sanctions against Russia.

“If we slap too many sanctions on them, then we’ll get cut out of the market,” he said. “And the Chinese are more than happy to come in and take our place.”

Johnson said President Barack Obama could avoid military action or imposing sanctions if the U.S. could export gas to Ukraine and other European countries.

“There are members of the President’s own party that are opposed to the export of oil and gas and coal,” Johnson said.

Legislation that would expedite the U.S. Department of Energy’s approval process for liquified natural-gas exports has a strong Republican backing but little support from Democrats. The legislation passed the House Energy and Commerce

Committee in late April. Proponents of the bill are awaiting further action.

Johnson said there are about two dozen gas export applications “sitting and languishing in the Department of Energy.”

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