Democratic News

Washington, D.C. – To maximize the advantages of America’s natural gas boom, Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., laid out four areas – infrastructure, transportation, exports and shale development – where he has begun working to find bipartisan agreement, in a speech today hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“In the economic Olympics, natural gas is helping the United States get out of the blocks,” said Wyden, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “Natural gas provides stable, affordable energy for manufacturers who are bringing factories back to America for the first time in decades. It can stabilize household power bills. And it is 50 percent cleaner than other fossil fuels. Now that the United States has gotten out of the blocks, our country should act to make sure it doesn’t give up that lead.”

Wyden said he intends to reach out to other members to work on finding agreement on natural gas issues.

Wyden laid out four areas of potential opportunity to improve U.S. natural gas policy: 

  • On infrastructure, to speed up pipeline development, while also plugging the methane leaks that threaten the climate advantage that natural gas can provide.

I’m going to look for ways to not just build more pipelines, but to build better pipelines,” Wyden said.

  • In transportation, to allow American drivers to benefit from low-cost natural gas, and provide relief at the pump.
  • On exports, and clarifying when and how the Department of Energy could choose to revoke export permits. Wyden said he is working with Senator Murkowski to obtain clarity from DOE about when it would suspend or revoke those permits.

Regardless of whether you think exports are good or bad, reasonable people can agree that having clarity on the process involved is crucial,” Wyden said.

  • And on transparency in gas production, in areas such as disclosing fracking fluids and reporting oil and natural gas spills. Wyden today asked the Energy Department to determine if the FracFocus database is sufficient to serve as a state or federal database for public disclosure, as the Interior Department has proposed, and how the website could be improved.

“States have led the way on fracking regulations,” Wyden said. “But people also have a right to know what’s happening in their communities, if there are spills that can affect them. Transparency isn’t something that should stop at the state line.”