Frack Us Here, Send it There
March 27, 2014
Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, under the new Chairmanship of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, held a hearing entitled, “Importing Energy, Exporting Jobs: Can It Be Reversed?”
This hearing is about converting fracked gas to a liquid for export to foreign countries. Just yesterday, the Department of Energy (DOE) preempted this hearing by announcing the conditional approval of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export facility at Jordon Cove in Coos Bay, Oregon. The Coos Bay facility is one of many permit applications currently pending before DOE or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). On the East Coast, officials now look toward exporting LNG from Cove Point in Southern Maryland.
Buy Low Sell High
Not too long ago, our policymakers sought domestic energy independence by importing LNG. In fact, Cove Point was once an import facility. Now, only a few years later, the shale gas boom has led to a glut in the domestic market where prices here remain low. However, in Asia, prices remain high. The drillers would much prefer to frack here and ship the gas abroad. So much for energy independence.
Importing Geopolitics from Russia
We cannot ignore that the rush to send away our domestic energy resources to ports abroad is not just about maximizing drilling profits. Many on this committee see LNG exports as a geopolitical tool to check against Russian incursions in to Crimea. Vladimir Putin agrees; his government slapped sanctions this week against Sen. Landrieu and eight other US officials. No sooner had this crisis struck, than Senator Mark Udall (CO) and Rep. Cory Gardner (CO) introduced comparable legislative proposals to fast track LNG exports. All three face competitive elections this November.
Fracking Our Communities, Outsourcing Our Resources
While Congress and the Administration continue to consider new measures to ratchet up the pressure on Russia, none of our leaders seem to give much consideration to the impact increased drilling has on our people here in the United States. And even in areas without shale, fracking’s infrastructure will soon spread to a community near you. After all, if we have to provide extra supply to feed international gas markets, the drillers have to figure out how to make that gas available. That means more pipelines, compressor stations, storage facilities, liquefaction terminals, and so on. We should not create more domestic sacrifice zones in response to international affairs. If we want to export more energy, we should instead accelerate renewable capacity.
For more information:
- Chesapeake Climate Action Network on Cove Point
- Energy Policy Forum on LNG Exports
- Earthblog: Too Much Natural Gas? Let's Give it to China!