Markey warns Chu on gas export plans

Natural gas already provides a fourth of U.S. electricity supplies and is prized as a cleaner-burning fuel than coal, which remains the dominant U.S. power source at roughly 45 percent.

Markey’s letter warns that the exports could slow the transition away from coal, which has been used less in the power market in recent years. He also notes the potential of gas to displace oil with the use of natural-gas-powered vehicles.

One export plan DOE recently approved and the seven pending could equal 18 percent of U.S. gas consumption, according to the letter, which cites data that DOE provided to Markey’s committee staff.

The export plans, and Markey's concerns about them, reflect how the boom in shale gas production in several states has altered the U.S. gas market, stemming plans in the last decade for a big expansion of liquefied natural gas imports.

From the letter:

I believe we must quickly transition to clean, sustainable sources of energy, such as solar and wind, to achieve lasting energy security and reduce pollution causing global climate change and other environmental problems. However, natural gas has been called a ‘bridge fuel’ because it’s now cheap and abundant and, when burned, it emits less carbon dioxide and other pollutants than coal and oil. I am worried that exporting America’s natural gas would raise energy costs for American consumers, reduce the global competitiveness of U.S. businesses, make us more dependent on foreign sources of energy, and slow our transition away from dirtier fuels.