Sen. Wyden: Congress ‘in the dark’ on natural gas exports

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The three-term Democrat in October wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking for a detailed description of factors the department will consider as it weighs applications to export gas from Oregon, the Gulf Coast and elsewhere (a list of projects under review is here).

The department is also working on a closely watched – and delayed – economic analysis of the proposed exports.

Wyden has not flatly come out against the export proposals, but showed in the Platts interview that he’s wary of the idea. “If we make the right decisions with respect to natural gas, I think it is going to be absolutely key to growing jobs in the manufacturing sector,” he said.

Elsewhere in the wide-ranging interview, Wyden reiterated plans to reexamine federal loan and grant programs for green technologies.

The programs have come under attack following the 2011 bankruptcy of Solyndra, the advanced solar panel maker that received a $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee in 2009, and bankruptcies and headwinds that have faced several other federally backed companies.

“Post-Solyndra, it is time to go in there and re-do those policies. Right now they are not doing enough to encourage innovation,” Wyden said.

In the interview, he also vowed to focus on the future of the nation’s gridlocked nuclear waste policy, and conduct oversight of the Interior Department’s offshore energy branch, which was reorganized and strengthened after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Wyden is slated to inherit the committee gavel from Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who is retiring from the Senate.

Check out the whole interview here.

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