DOE nominee open to reviewing natural-gas export study

In his comments, he was referring to a December DOE-commissioned study by NERA Economic Consulting that said boosting natural-gas exports would yield a net economic win for the U.S.

Some Democrats, including committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Abortion rights group plans M campaign to flip the House The federal judiciary needs more Latino judges Senate Dems to Mnuchin: Don't index capital gains to inflation MORE (D-Ore.), have questioned the study. They say it used outdated information in its analysis.

In response to a question from Wyden on whether Moniz would take a closer look at that study, the physicist said, “We certainly want to make sure we are using data that is relevant to the decision at hand.”

The topic of natural gas exports is attracting much congressional attention, as federal law makes it difficult to ship a glut of natural gas to most nations.

Democrats fear increasing exports would raise domestic natural gas prices, undercutting the manufacturing industry in the process — though the NERA study Moniz alluded to said price jumps would be modest.

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Dems to Mnuchin: Don't index capital gains to inflation This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration MORE (D-Mich.) pressed Moniz on that issue. With a nod to her state’s manufacturing base, she said, “Getting this right is incredibly important for the American economy.”

But the NERA study was a key victory for proponents of exporting more natural gas, who say doing so will add jobs and buoy federal revenues.

Export backers — mainly Republicans and business groups — say the study’s positive economic grade satisfied a law that says sending natural gas to nations that lack a free-trade agreement with the U.S. must be in the national interest.

Under federal law, deals to such countries face greater scrutiny than those with nations that have a free-trade arrangement with the U.S. The DOE has only green-lighted one such application, with 20 pending.