New LNG terminal means total exports passes DOE’s own high-export scenario, could lead to $62 billion tax on American natural gas consumers

WASHINGTON (March 24, 2014) – The Department of Energy approved exports from a sixth natural gas export terminal, putting the total approved exports of America’s natural gas past a level that the energy agency’s own analysis said could raise prices by upwards of 50 percent. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today said that this new level of exports would put the future of America’s natural gas dependent industries and consumers in uncharted waters, and urged DOE to conduct additional robust studies about what impact these high levels of exports would have on the American economy.

The thumbs up today given to the Jordan Cove facility in Oregon means the total exports approved have reached 4.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas per year. In 2012, the Department of Energy’s own study found that under a “high export scenario” of 4.4 Tcf of natural gas exports per year, domestic prices could spike by more than 50 percent. Based on the domestic price increases DOE has reported could come with this level of natural gas exports, U.S. energy consumers could be facing as much as $62 billion per year in higher energy costs as a direct result of exporting.

“There can be no doubt that we have crossed a line into an era when we could be massively exporting America’s natural gas, sending the jobs and consumer benefits abroad along with the fuel. The level of exports approved is now more than every single American home consumes, and it could impose up to a $62 billion de facto tax on American households and businesses,” said Senator Markey. “This is the moment to take a time out and do the studies, have the debate, and discuss the policies needed to protect consumers, enhance our national security and grow our economy, not rush to export more of America’s resources abroad.”

Earlier this month, Senator Markey 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.