A pair of bills introduced Tuesday by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) would block the exportation of domestic natural gas, which Markey said would lead to higher prices in the United States.
The Keep American Natural Gas Here Act would require that any natural gas extracted from federal lands be resold on the domestic market, and would require any pipeline crossing federal lands to offer its natural gas for domestic sale only. The bill does not provide any exemption for gas exports to Canada or Mexico. The North America Natural Gas Security and Consumer Protection Act would forbid FERC from approving new natural gas export terminals until 2025. The second bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ).
"Low natural gas prices are a competitive advantage for American businesses and a relief for American families, and exporting our natural gas would eliminate our economic edge and impose new costs on consumers," Markey said. "This is America's natural gas and it should stay here in America."
Domestic gas "belongs to all Americans, not just a few privileged drilling companies," Holt said. "Congress must act now to prevent this national resource from being shipped to our competitors overseas. Keeping American natural gas here at home is good for consumers and a step toward creating a more sustainable energy future."
Markey, who is the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said he has filed an amendment to the transportation bill that will be debated on the House floor later this week that would prevent domestic gas from being sold to overseas markets.
"Whether it's through a pipeline or a shipping tanker, we shouldn't allow our domestic natural gas to be siphoned off to Asia, Europe or other markets when it's needed here in the United States," Markey said. "The plan to export natural gas only helps the oil and gas companies who are already making billions, while only serving to hurt millions of American families and businesses that benefit from lower prices."
The bills aren't likely to receive much support in the House, where members of the Republican majority were critical of Markey's recent attempt to require that natural gas from Alaska's North slope stay in the United States (see Daily GPI, Feb. 2).
The potential negative impacts of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) could be significant and far-reaching, according to a letter Markey sent to Energy Secretary Steven Chu last month (see Daily GPI, Jan. 6). Markey has cited as evidence the Energy Information Administration's recent projections of lower Marcellus Shale resource estimates, and the potential of higher domestic gas prices if LNG was exported (see Daily GPI, Jan. 24).
Markey's letter followed the recent filing of an application by Gulf Coast LNG Export LLC to export 2.8 Bcf/d of liquefied U.S. natural gas to world markets (see Daily GPI, Jan. 3). Gulf Coast LNG is the eighth party to apply since 2010 to the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy for long-term authorization to export domestic gas as LNG.
The first party to apply for export authority, Cheniere Energy unit Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC (see Daily GPI, Nov. 22, 2011), has received approval to export 2.2 Bcf/d under both Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and non-FTA provisions. Sabine Pass received a favorable environmental assessment for its project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in December (see Daily GPI, Dec. 30, 2011). Overall, DOE has received applications to export 12.33 Bcf/d to FTA countries and 12.51 Bcf/d to non-FTA countries.
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