Japanese energy, business groups urge US gas export approvals

A separate letter from The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan calls exports in the interest of both nations.

DOE also received pro-export letters from The Japan Gas Association, the Japan Foreign Trade Council, the Japan Business Federation and the Japan-U.S. Business Council.

The groups are commenting on a controversial DOE-commissioned study that concluded that expanded LNG exports would be a net economic win for the U.S., and that price increases would be modest.

Letters to DOE on the study are available here.

DOE is using the report to inform its review of industry applications to export gas from the Pacific Northwest, the Gulf Coast and other locations.

Federal law, according to DOE, generally requires approval of exports to nations that have free-trade deals with the U.S., but other applications face more scrutiny.

The Japanese groups say that exports will be beneficial to both nations’ economies and strengthen U.S.-Japanese relations.

“In light of the high uncertainty regarding the costs and stability of electricity supply in Japan in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the tragic accident at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant, securing a stable energy supply at economically feasible costs is a critical pillar of Japan’s economic growth strategy. This is vital not only to maintain and expand domestic industries and employment but also to offer a more attractive business environment to the U.S. and other foreign corporations operating in Japan,” states a Jan. 23 letter to DOE from the Japan-U.S. Business Council.

Japan is already the world’s largest LNG importer, and the 2011 nuclear disaster has further increased its need for outside energy supplies.

Almost all of Japan’s nuclear plants remain offline in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which led to meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

DOE has also received pro-export comments from an array of U.S. energy and business groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s energy policy arm.

But the study has received pushback from critics that include a handful of big U.S. manufacturing and chemical companies that fear that a major export expansion would raise prices enough to harm energy-hungry U.S. industries.

Letters to DOE on the NERA Economic Consulting study also include comments from nearly 30,000 people organized by the Sierra Club that call the report “flawed” and incomplete.

“The report completely ignores or unfairly dismisses the real costs to hard‐working Americans and their communities – increased costs to heat our homes and businesses, the loss of jobs in industries most affected by LNG exports including domestic manufacturing, and projected costs associated with environmental destruction due to fracking and healthcare costs for those affected by polluted air and water,” the comments state.