Groups urge administration to steer clear of gas exports bill

Some 114 groups are pressing Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest MonizOvernight Energy: Trump signs climate order | Greens vow to fight back What we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing Overnight Energy: Rough hearing for Tillerson MORE to reject proposals to increase liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

In a letter sent to Moniz on Monday, the environmental and health groups say Moniz should not support legislation introduced by a Senate Republican that would speed up the approval of permits for companies looking to export natural gas overseas.

The legislation in question is one introduced by Sen. John HoevenJohn HoevenOvernight Healthcare: Divisions emerge in Senate over preexisting conditions GOP senators meet with insurer for input on ObamaCare repeal Senate GOP short on ideas for stabilizing ObamaCare markets MORE (R-N.D.), who said in November that he was working with Moniz on the language in the bill in order to get the secretary’s support.

“I talked to the secretary of Energy, and he has some things he’d like us to incorporate, and then he’s willing to support the bill,” Hoeven said.

Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Public Citizen and more weren’t pleased.

“Even with modifications, this bill — and the other similar bills that various congressmen have put forward — would undermine the Department of Energy’s ability to fully assess the environmental and public health impacts of LNG,” the letter states. “Endorsement of such a bill would directly contradict President Obama’s pledge to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

Kate DeAngelis, climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said supporting the bill would “signal” to the energy industry that the administration backs more investment, more fracking and more greenhouse gas emissions.

“LNG could prove worse for the climate than coal, yet all signs indicate that the Obama administration is continuing to fully embrace it,” DeAngelis said.

Calls to increase gas exports came after the annexation of Crimea and Russia tightening its energy hold on Ukraine.

Ukraine’s dependence on Russian for liquefied natural gas exports led U.S. lawmakers to push for faster exports and faster approval of export facilities, which the Energy Department oversees.

The department is tasked with determining whether proposed LNG export facilities, which would ship to non-free trade agreement countries are in the national interest.