The letter to the Obama Administration comes following the recent public comment period to the Department of Energy (DOE), who commissioned NERA Consulting to conduct a study of the impacts natural gas exports would have on the nation's economy [See WIMS 12/7/12]. DOE is currently reviewing proposals for 16 export facilities. If all of these facilities were approved and developed, they would export a volume of gas equal to almost half of the natural gas currently produced in the US. Sierra Club and a number of allied groups also filed extensive technical comments on the NERA economic study, stating it is incomplete, extremely flawed, and favors the interests of dirty fuel investors over those of the majority of Americans.
In the letter to the President, the groups highlighted shared concerns that natural gas exports will raise domestic energy prices, disproportionately harming the middle class and manufacturing, while further exacerbating the climate crisis and leading to more dirty and dangerous fracking and drilling on our nation's lands.
The groups indicated in a release that the expansion of drilling and fracking "will further pollute our air, water and put the health and safety of our communities at additional risk. Expanded drilling will also substantially increase emissions of methane, which is a powerful climate disrupting pollutant that puts the public at risk of worsening climate change." They said in spite of the many environmental risks, however, DOE has failed to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the national environmental impacts that exports and increased natural gas production would create.
Liveris continued, "The report also fails to consider the tremendous competitive advantage that affordable, abundant domestic natural gas offers to the nation. Instead, the report offers the baffling conclusion that the U.S. would be better off using its domestic natural gas advantage to fuel growth and jobs in other regions versus strengthening the U.S. economy through manufacturing and benefiting consumers with lower energy costs. Industry has announced over 100 capital investments representing over $90 billion in spending and millions of new jobs predicated on abundant and affordable natural gas, none of which were captured in this report. Unfortunately, policy makers have been given a flawed report that overlooks vital dynamics, including a manufacturing renaissance that is already underway and much needed by this country."
Peter Huntsman, President and CEO of Huntsman Corporation said, "The U.S. government must ensure that we can meet the present and rapidly growing future demand for natural gas in our country before we launch blindly into massive exports of LNG. The data in this report quite clearly indicates that our nation has much more to gain from using this abundant resource to manufacture value-added products, than from merely exporting this resource as LNG." AEA's position is counter to other major industry associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) who are actively supporting increased exports. On January 18, Dow Chemical Company withdrew its membership from NAM over the issue [See WIMS 1/22/13].