U.S. Senators to DOE: Don’t Let Domestic Natural Gas Producers Chasing Higher Prices Overseas Leave U.S. Consumers with Bigger Energy Bills This Winter
WASHINGTON, DC -- In response to elevated natural gas prices that are causing U.S. consumers to pay higher energy bills, a group of ten U.S. Senators led by Jack Reed (D-RI) and Angus King (I-ME) is urging the Biden Administration to seriously reevaluate the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Noting “the heavy burden rising natural gas prices has placed on American families,” the Senators say domestic producers shouldn’t harm U.S. consumers as they seek to export more LNG to global markets and are urging the U.S. Department of Energy to study the impact of elevated exports on domestic energy prices. During the review process, the Senators are calling for a halt to permit approvals of U.S. LNG export facilities. According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. is projected to have the world’s largest LNG export capacity by the end of this year.
“We urge the Department 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,” the Senators wrote.
In addition to Reed and King, the letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm was also signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Full text of the letter follows:
February 2, 2022
The Honorable Jennifer Granholm
Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20585
Dear Secretary Granholm:
As families across the country continue to face steep residential energy and heating costs, we urge you to take swift action to limit U.S. natural gas exports and examine their impact on domestic energy prices.
While we strongly support the administration’s commitment to advancing the deployment of renewable energy, we understand that nearly half of all U.S. homes currently rely on natural gas for heat. In its 2021-2022 Winter Fuels Outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that energy costs for natural gas-fueled homes will increase by 30 percent over the course of this winter. Homes in colder regions, such as New England and the Midwest, will see even larger increases in their heating bills.
Despite the heavy burden rising natural gas prices has placed on American families, the U.S. is exporting record levels of natural gas to other countries, a trend that is only expected to continue. Reports indicate that in December U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports topped 7.7 million tons, for the first time making the U.S. the world’s leading LNG exporter. And on December 9, the EIA issued a report indicating that the U.S. is on track to have the largest LNG export capacity in the world by the end of 2022. With this increased capacity, exports will only continue to grow in the coming years.
At the same time, LNG exports are decreasing the surplus for the U.S. market, as the EIA predicts that this year natural gas inventories will reach a full 159 billion cubic feet below its previous five-year average. Projections of exponentially increased U.S. exports will cause real harm to American families’ ability to pay their home energy bills.
When establishing U.S. LNG export policies, we understand there are geopolitical factors and global and regional markets to consider. This includes recent calls for U.S. exporters to provide additional volumes of natural gas to Europe amid increased threats of a Russian supply disruption. However, the Administration must also consider the potential increase in cost to American families because of higher export volumes.
Therefore, we urge the Department 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. We believe this is in the interest of our constituents and people across the country who are already struggling to pay their energy bills.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our offices with any questions. We look forward to receiving a prompt reply.