Senator expresses concern that Ukraine crisis provoking rush to export American economy’s low-cost natural gas advantage

WASHINGTON (March 6, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee with jurisdiction over international energy security, today said that he opposes efforts to expedite new natural gas exports, the calls for which have increased during the crisis in Ukraine. 

In response to the calls to rush approvals of more export terminals, Senator Markey today introduced legislation to require the Department of Energy to consider a number of important factors before approving additional natural gas exports to ensure that those exports are in the national interest. 

Sen. Markey’s bill, the “American Natural Gas Security and Consumer Protection Act”, would require that DOE weighs the impacts of proposed exports on consumers, our economy and manufacturing sectors, our national security, our foreign policy, and other considerations. 

Current law favors allowing exports of natural gas unless it is determined that they are not in the national interest. Sen. Markey’s bill would turn this presumption in favor of consumers, our economy and our national security, given the large volumes of natural gas exports that have already been permitted.  

The Department of Energy has already approved five export terminals that would send up to 4.0 trillion cubic feet of natural gas abroad every year. That is more than twice what Ukraine uses in an entire year, more than a quarter of what Europe currently imports yearly, and nearly as much as every single American home currently consumes yearly.

Below is the statement of Senator Markey:

“The situation in Ukraine is highly concerning, and we should be giving Ukrainians the support they need now to survive the rest of this winter and find a peaceful solution to this crisis. 

“Using this crisis as an excuse to rapidly and massively expand exports of America’s natural gas won’t help Ukraine now. What massively exporting America’s natural gas will do is undercut American manufacturers trying to create jobs. It will raise costs for consumers already paying high energy bills. It will hurt efforts to move away from coal-fired power plants, increasing the carbon emissions that cause climate change. Consumers will lose. Job-seekers will lose. Our environment will lose.

“We should not give away the domestic economic and national security rewards of our natural gas boom, and then just hope that the market reduces the risk of international conflicts. 

“America is not Russia or Venezuela. We cannot dictate to private oil companies where they can send their oil and gas. Natural gas prices in Asia and South America are much higher than anywhere in Europe. The market, not foreign policy, will dictate where our exports would land.

“I believe the best foreign policy for the United States is to be strong at home and project that power abroad.

“We need to put diplomatic pressure on the Russians, but we should not do so at the expense of America’s manufacturers and consumers. 

“The natural gas export volumes that we have already approved have nearly reached a level that the Energy Department found could mean a price increase of almost $2.50 per thousand cubic feet of gas on every American consumer and business. 

“If we cross this threshold and approve just a few more terminals, the spikes in natural gas prices could amount to an additional $62 billion tax on American consumers and businesses each year.

“If a new $62 billion tax were proposed on oil and gas companies, they would be screaming in opposition.

“We can’t allow the oil industry to use the Ukrainian crisis as a pretext for diminishing our global economic and security advantage.”

A copy of Senator Markey’s legislation can be found HERE.