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Capitol Hill debate over LNG exports heats up

Keywords: Tags  Lisa Murkowski, LNG exports, America's Energy Advantage, Nucor, Jennifer Diggins, liquefied natural gas, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — The debate over liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports is heating up on Capitol Hill, with a manufacturing association that promotes a cautious approach to exports filing a motion to intervene in Energy Department permitting proceedings and a U.S. senator urging the agency to speed up the approval process.

The Energy Department has to approve all LNG exports to non-FTA (free-trade agreement) countries.

"Exporting too much natural gas too fast could cause a supply shock and hurt domestic manufacturers who are using newfound supplies of natural gas to spur a manufacturing renaissance," Jennifer Diggins, chairwoman of America’s Energy Advantage (AEA) and director of public affairs at Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp., said in a statement. "Domestic job growth and the multiplier effect from natural gas used in manufacturing is many times that of the value created when gas is simply exported as LNG."

Filing the motion, the basis for any participation in permitting proceedings, will "allow AEA to continue to advocate for public interest standards that are specific and comprehensive for natural gas exports," said the organization, which also includes Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer Alcoa Inc.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) said the United States risks losing export opportunities unless the department speeds up the approval process.

The latest LNG export license to non-FTA countries took 29 months to grant, according to a letter from Murkowski, while other natural-gas-producing nations are moving rapidly to expand their LNG export base. "With additional projects in the planning stages in Qatar, Australia, Canada and elsewhere, the world simply may not need LNG from the U.S. to meet new demand in the future," she wrote.

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