Congressman Markey still worries about U.S. natural gas exports

Michael Giberson

A few weeks back Congressman Ed Markey asked the U.S. Department of Energy whether exports of natural gas might not be in the public interest (see prior note here, related note) as exports would tend to push U.S. gas prices higher.

The USDOE’s response apparently didn’t mitigate Markey’s concern; today the Congressman introduced two bills intended to impede the export of natural gas. (See here and here.) One bill would prevent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from approving any new LNG export terminals until 2025. Another bill would require natural gas produced from federal lands be sold only to American consumers. (Shall we require hotels on federal lands to only rent to American consumers as well? Those foreign tourists visiting the Grand Canyon are just driving up the cost for American tourists, right Congressman?)

I’m neither for or against the prospect of exporting LNG, but I’m entirely for letting companies finding the best offer for their products. If the product is natural gas and the best offers come from customers outside the United States, then by all means I’d want them to export.

I continue to wonder why the Congressman from Massachusetts is singling out natural gas exports as an object of concern, since any big growth in such exports is a few years from reality and the United States remains a net importer of natural gas. At the same time, Massachusetts producers are exporting billions of dollars worth of goods and services each year – over $26 billion worth of goods and services in 2010 – which by the Congressman’s crabbed logic is contributing to higher prices for U.S. consumers and therefore harmful to the public interest.

Congressman, why are these Massachusetts exports okay, but natural gas exports are not?

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2 thoughts on “Congressman Markey still worries about U.S. natural gas exports

  1. Pingback: The Unbroken Window » Blog Archive » And Another Economic Darwin Award Candidate …

  2. “Mixed Verdict on Fracking” by Erik Stokstad on 16 February 2012.

    … a major review of the practice … uncovered no signs that it is causing trouble below ground. “We found no direct evidence that fracking itself has contaminated groundwater,” said Charles Groat of the University of Texas (UT), Austin, who led the study. The report, released here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science … doesn’t give this form of natural gas extraction a clean bill of health. Rather, it suggests that problems aren’t directly caused by fracking … Instead, the report concludes, contamination tends to happen closer to the surface when gas and drilling fluid escapes from poorly lined wells or storage ponds. …

    The team did not see a need for new regulations specific to fracking, but for better enforcement of existing regulations of drilling in general—such as those covering well casing and disposal of wastewater from drilling. …

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