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Democratic Senators Raise LNG Export Concerns

A quartet of U.S. senators has written U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz expressing concern over "an alarming rate" of approvals of applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG). The Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG) said the concerns raised have been addressed before.

"As of August 2016, the DOE has approved 18 export applications to non-free trade agreement (non-FTA) countries totaling 14.44 Bcf/d, or nearly 20% of 2015 domestic dry natural gas production," wrote Sens. Al Franken (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Angus King Jr. (I-ME). "The DOE has also conditionally approved another 0.8 Bcf/d for non-FTA countries. Including applications that have been approved for export to FTA countries...authorized LNG exports total 49.19 Bcf/d, or more than 60% of 2015 production."

The senators said domestic industries and U.S. families could be harmed by this level of LNG exports as it will increase their costs for energy. They also said exports could contribute to climate change.

"The DOE has already conducted multiple macroeconomic analyses that address the concerns raised by the senators," CLNG said. "In fact, the currently approved export volume of 14.44 Bcf/d that the senators cited is well within the export scenarios of 12 to 20 Bcf/d analyzed by DOE in a macroeconomic report released in December 2015 (see Daily GPIDec. 29, 2015).

"That report examined whether it is 'ultimately economically advantageous' for the U.S. to export LNG, and it found that expanded export scenarios would deliver between $7 billion and $20 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The report also found that the economic benefits associated with LNG exports are highest under the largest export scenarios..."

CLNG noted the Senate's energy bill, which would expedite LNG export approvals (see Shale DailyFeb. 2) and said there is bipartisan support for LNG exports.

"Additionally, it is encouraging that the conference committee is making progress towards an energy bill that includes the LNG provision and will be supported in both chambers of Congress," CLNG said. "Passing this bill will improve regulatory certainty and allow the U.S. to enjoy the substantial economic benefits that will come with higher levels of LNG exports."

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