President Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Energy, Ernest Moniz, dealt with questions about LNG exports from both sides of the aisle during his Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing held Tuesday April 9th.
If confirmed, which is widely expected, Moniz would be in charge of the department responsible for issuing some of the permits needed to export LNG from the US. He previously supported exports in a co-chaired 2011 MIT report entitled “The Future of Natural Gas,” which concluded “The U.S. should sustain North American energy market integration and support development of a global ‘liquid’ natural gas market with diversity of supply. A corollary is that the U.S. should not erect barriers to natural gas imports or exports.”
With the Keystone XL pipeline issue near the top of the US energy agenda and media headlines, the LNG export issue has received less attention over the past few months. However, the Center for LNG released the following statement from its President Bill Cooper: “The new Energy Secretary will have the opportunity to expedite approvals for LNG export projects, which will help revitalize U.S. manufacturing, create jobs and generate significant government revenue. CLNG urges the U.S. Department of Energy to seize the opportunity to grow American exports by selling some of our clean-burning natural gas to our trading partners abroad, which will stimulate economic growth here at home.”
Moniz said at the hearing, “I believe the Natural Gas Act suggests that one should move forward with licenses, unless there is a clear public interest issue,” as quoted in the statement issued by CLNG.
For her part, Senator Lisa Murkowski – ranking Republican member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee – questioned Moniz on his support for exporting natural gas, efforts to expand the use of hydropower and the nation’s continued use of coal to generate electricity, according to her official website.
Referring to the program that supported now bankrupt solar firm Solyndra, Murkowski said “All of us would do well to remember that success is not measured through spending or good intentions, but the actual results that are achieved.”
Murkowski added “I’m optimistic that our committee can also reform some of these programs and end those that aren’t working as planned,” but help is also needed from our Secretary of Energy. “Policy and management are different animals, and the person we confirm to run DOE must excel at both,” according to statements posted on her website.
Democratic Senator from Oregon and Chairman of Energy and Natural Resources Ron Wyden tweeted “Dr. Moniz has the expertise and bipartisan goodwill needed for success. I plan to support his nomination for @Energy.”