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Industrial Consumers Group Voices Opposition to LNG Fast-tracking Bill

The Industrial Energy Consumers of America (IECA) on Wednesday said it opposes a Senate bill aimed at expanding liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, calling the measure bad for domestic manufacturers and the economy.

S 1415, introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), seeks, among other things, to "terminate the prohibitions on the exportation and importation of natural gas" by amending existing federal laws.

IECA said the legislation, dubbed the "License Natural Gas Now Act of 2017" or the "LNG Now Act of 2017," would harm Louisiana's economy, arguing that exporting natural gas would negatively impact the competitiveness of domestic job creators.

IECA is a nonpartisan, cross-industry trade association representing companies with more than 2,600 facilities nationwide and $1 trillion in annual sales.

"The Energy Information Administration is forecasting Henry Hub Nymex natural gas prices to rise 87% by 2020. The price rise is in large part due to several LNG export terminals becoming operational," IECA wrote in a letter to Cassidy. "Every LNG study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) confirms that LNG exports increase domestic natural gas prices and decrease prices for our global competitors offshore, thereby directly and negatively impacting our relative competitiveness and jobs."

IECA argued that increasing LNG exports reduces domestic wages and investment, "and shows only a small net economic benefit, which peaks in 2020 and rapidly declines."

Oil and gas production and LNG exports "are not large job creators when compared to manufacturing," IECA told Cassidy. "...Even if LNG exports double it would create few jobs. However, if natural gas prices rise, the manufacturing sector will be damaged, which would threaten millions of good-paying jobs and trillions in capital assets nationally. The same holds true for Louisiana."

The LNG Now Act was introduced in the Senate last month and has been referred to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee, according to Congressional records.

"The previous administration created hurdles that stalled LNG projects that benefit the economy, environment and Louisiana workers," Cassidy said after he introduced the bill. "This legislation adds certainty to the approval process and brings investment, and better-paying jobs, to Louisiana."

The bill has received support from the American Petroleum Institute, the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, G2 LNG, LNG Allies and the Natural Gas Supply Association.

S 1415 comes as the Senate considers a $38.4 billion measure to fund the DOE and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Meanwhile, the House on Thursday passed two bills that would streamline the permitting process for energy infrastructure, including oil and natural gas pipelines, with some measure of bipartisan support.

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