Democratic News

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden today urged the Energy Department to use updated data that includes regional factors and domestic costs when considering permits for liquefied natural gas export terminals.

In a hearing today, Chris Smith, the nominee for assistant secretary of Energy for the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, assured Wyden and the other committee members that the Energy Department will continue to issue permits for LNG export terminals on a case-by-case basis.

“This is an opportunity to keep prices stable for our businesses and our consumers,” Wyden said. “It’s got a link to renewables because natural gas has a chance to bring those renewables into baseload power and if we do it right, we can have it all.”

Watch Sen. Wyden’s questions with Chris Smith here.

The Energy Department has now issued permits for four export terminals to countries that do not have free-trade agreements with the United States. Wyden has previously voiced concerns with data from a study the department uses in part to make its decisions on permits, saying again today that the study is outdated and is no longer an adequate basis for making judgments about export permits.

Smith assured the committee members that the Energy Department monitors market factors and uses “appropriate and relevant data” as it continues to issue LNG export terminal permits on their individual merits.

Wyden also asked Smith about the potential that DOE would pause the approval process for new LNG exports. Smith said DOE is continuing to move forward with approvals right now.

“I think there’s an opportunity here for us to find the sweet spot, where we can give a big lift to American industries where we have a pricing advantage, help our consumers, help renewables and be able to export,” Wyden said. “Number one, we’re going to have to have good data, good and current data, and second, on matters like whether or not there’s going to be a pause and under what circumstance, we’re going to need some more clarity on that.”