May 7, 2024

Reed, Whitehouse & Merkley Lead Bicameral Letter Urging Biden to Ensure LNG Exports Are Fully in the Public Interest

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and U.S. Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA-02), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-07), Nanette Barragán (D-CA-44), Jennifer McClellan (D-VA-04), and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13) led their colleagues on a bicameral letter thanking President Biden and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm for pausing approvals of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. The group applauds DOE for evaluating how such exports impact consumers, the climate, and vulnerable communities. The members urged the administration to develop meaningful economic and environmental tests to ensure that the DOE public interest determination criteria truly protect what is best for the public and climate.

“We believe the facts are clear: LNG exports harm U.S. households and industrial consumers,” the members stated. “With our allies well-supplied by existing exports, we agree that now is the time to step back and examine the long-term impacts that additional U.S. LNG exports will have on American consumers, industries, and the environment.”

“This is an overdue opportunity to examine whether the LNG export boom creates value for the American people or, as we suspect, results in harm while primarily benefitting oil and gas companies that want to ship American LNG overseas for higher profits,” the members concluded.

In 2022, Reed and Whitehouse sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy urging the Biden Administration to “to conduct a review of LNG exports and their impact on domestic prices and the public interest, and develop a plan to ensure natural gas remains affordable for American households. Until such a plan is completed, the Department should consider halting permit approvals of U.S. LNG export facilities.”

Following the letter, the agency’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report in May 2023 on the impact of LNG exports on the U.S. market.  It found that “higher LNG exports results in upward pressure on U.S. natural gas prices and that lower U.S. LNG exports results in downward pressure.”

According to a recent report by Public Citizen LNG exports help drive up prices American consumers pay for natural gas: “Across the country, the price households paid for natural gas has increased 52% since 2016” and “American families and businesses spent nearly $105 billion more on electricity in 2023 than in 2016.”

The lawmakers went on to request specific changes to how the DOE evaluates new LNG projects, including:

  1. A test for the effects that export approvals will have on U.S. consumers, particularly low-income households, whose energy burden is typically three times higher.
  2. Evaluations of greenhouse gas emissions tied to the LNG supply chain against international and domestic climate targets and examined within the context of existing and proposed LNG export facilities. To do so, DOE should publish greenhouse gas emission estimates for each proposed project.
  3. Ensuring that its public interest determinations follow the letter and spirit of President Biden’s Executive Order on Revitalizing our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All and account for cumulative impacts faced by frontline communities.

The letter was also signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tina Smith (D-MN), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), and Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Summer Lee (D-PA-12), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-AL), Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), Katie Porter (D-CA-47), Delia C. Ramirez (D-IL-03), Sean Casten (D-IL-06), Kevin Mullin (D-CA-15), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO-05), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Ro Khanna (D-CA-17), Maxine Waters (D-CA-43), Greg Casar (D-TX-35), Chellie Pingree (D-ME-01), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-31), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), Adam B. Schiff (D-CA-30), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA-38), Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), Mark Takano (D-CA-39), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), Judy Chu (D-CA-28), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-10), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY-07), James P. McGovern (D-MA-02), Paul D. Tonko (D-NY-20), Dan Goldman (D-NY-10), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL-04), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA-04), Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08), David J. Trone (D-MD-06), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-12), Andrea Salinas (D-OR-06), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-29), Mike Levin (D-CA-49), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA-37), Jonathan L. Jackson (D-IL-01), Kathy Castor (D-FL-14), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL-24), Seth Magaziner (D-RI-02), Val Hoyle (D-OR-04), Shri Thanedar (D-MI-13), Angie Craig (D-MN-02), Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (D-NC-12),Sara Jacobs (D-CA-51), Gabe Amo (D-RI-01),Brad Sherman (D-CA-32), André Carson (D-IN-07), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-18), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA-25), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-03), and Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (D-NY-16).

Click here to read a full copy of the letter.

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