US lawmakers tell Obama to rein in energy exports

Jun 1, 2012 by

Obama has power to set rules for energy exports-lawmakers

* Energy exports could harm manufacturers, consumers

* Obama admin waiting on study before approving LNG exports

By Ayesha Rascoe

WASHINGTON, May 31 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama must crack down on energy exports from the United States to protect consumers and manufacturers from price spikes, two influential Democrats said on Th ursday.

Obama needs to use his authority to limit exports of natural gas, as well as coal and petroleum products, and lay out a framework for assessing whether such exports are in the national interest, Congressman Edward Markey and Senator Ron Wyden said in a letter to the president.

“A dramatic increase in exports of American energy will likely have significant implications for our economy, for the competitiveness of American industries and for consumers,” the lawmakers argued.

“We are concerned that these implications have not yet been fully thought through.”

Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources committee, and Wyden, who will likely be the top Democrat on the Senate energy committee next year, have been two of the most prominent critics of industry plans to send some of the nation’s newfound natural gas bounty abroad.

Thu May 31, 2012 5:46pm EDT

They have raised concerns that exports of liquefied natural gas could harm resurgent domestic manufacturers that have benefited from cheap natural gas prices.

The shale gas boom has pushed U.S. natural gas costs down to 10-year lows, but producers say these prices are not sustainable and exports are needed to offset excess production.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s authorization is needed to export natural gas to all but a handful of countries.

After approving gas exports from Cheniere’s Sabine Pass terminal last year, the Obama administration put a hold on further approvals until a study it commissioned on the economic implications of exports is completed. That study is due out later this summer.

Markey and Wyden said the president has the power under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 to set rules for energy exports beyond just natural gas, pointing out that in 2011, the United States became a net exporter of petroleum products for the first time in 62 years.

The lawmakers called for the federal government to consider four factors when weighing energy exports: national security, energy security, economic impacts and environmental protection.

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