Senators to Obama: Exercise restraint on LNG exports

A bipartisan group of 22 US senators, led by Energy and Natural Resources Committee member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Foreign Relations Committee member Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), urged US President Barack Obama to consider possible impacts on American manufacturing and families that rely on natural gas for heat when looking to approve new LNG export facilities.

“This winter, many parts of the country faced tight supplies of propane and natural gas, and families were left to face high energy bills,” they said in a May 8 letter to the president. “[It] served as a reminder that high gas prices can hurt family budgets and be a drag on our economy.”

Longer term, the US has benefited from increased gas supplies and lower prices since 2008, the letter said. “Thanks in part to lower gas prices, America’s manufacturing sector has created more than 600,000 jobs since 2010,” it said, continuing, “The Boston Consulting Group concluded that affordable gas prices could lead to 5 million more manufacturing jobs by the end of the decade.”

The US Department of Energy’s recent approval of a sixth LNG export installation’s application means that total US gas exports, including those through existing and approved export pipelines, now exceed “the total amount of gas that is currently used in every single American home and commercial business,” it continued.

This export level “well exceeds the ‘high export scenario’ referenced by a 2012 [Department of Energy] study which indicated prices could increase by up to 54%,” the letter warned. “Price increases of this scale could translate into more than $60 billion/year in higher energy costs for American consumers and businesses.”

In addition to Stabenow and Markey, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Thomas R. Harkin (D-Iowa), Angus King (I-Maine), Patrick J. Leahey (D-Vt.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ronald L. Wyden (D-Ore.) signed the letter.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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