Two of Congress’s leading voices on U.S. energy policy today called on President Barack Obama to use his existing authority to limit the export of America’s energy resources.
In a letter, Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, and U.S.. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a senior Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, explain that when it comes to sending U.S. energy resources abroad, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 gives the president the authority to create rules that elevate national interests over corporate profits.
Wyden and Markey encourage the president to use this existing authority to prevent the export of energy commodities – especially natural gas – explaining that while allowing energy companies to export U.S. natural resources would be highly profitable for energy companies, it would lead to higher prices for American consumers and “harm the recovery of key industrial sectors that are so vital to this country’s overall economic well-being.”
“It would be unwise for our country to go down a road in which we incur the potential environmental impacts of increased energy development, while sending overseas the economic benefits of these greater supplies and manufacturing lower costs….and we are concerned that these implications have not yet been fully thought through,” Wyden and Markey write to the president. “It would be unwise for our country to go down a road in which we incur the potential environmental impacts of increased energy development, while sending overseas the economic benefits of these greater supplies. We are concerned that these implications have not yet been fully thought through.”
“A recent Energy Information Administration report found that natural gas exports of 12 billion cubic feet per day – a significantly lower volume than what companies have already applied to export – could raise U.S. natural gas prices by as much 54 percent,” Wyden and Markey explain in the letter. “The impacts of higher natural gas prices would not just be felt by utilities and consumers of electricity, but would likely have a dramatic impact on the domestic manufacturing sector. Since January 2010, U.S. natural gas prices have steadily declined by more than half while 470,000 domestic manufacturing jobs have been created. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that U.S. manufacturing companies could employ 1 million more workers by 2025 as a result of abundant, low-cost natural gas.”
In the letter, Markey and Wyden express concerns about what they term, “the inadequacy of the existing federal processes which govern the export of all of these American energy commodities.” They urge the president to adopt a more robust framework for evaluating proposed exports, which they say should be guided by a clear set of national policy principles.
A sound regulatory framework, they suggest, should consider the impact that proposed energy exports would have on:
1 – U.S. National Security
2 – U.S. Energy Security
3 – The integrity of the United States’ environmental landscape
4 –The U.S. Economy (namely, what impact would a change in energy prices have on U.S. consumers and the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing