Markey Introduces Legislation to Keep American Natural Gas in America


WASHINGTON (February 14, 2012) - To protect consumers and businesses from increasing natural gas prices and keep America's natural gas here in the United States, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today introduced two bills that would stem the flow of natural gas to foreign markets. One bill would require that any natural gas extracted from taxpayer-owned federal lands would have to be resold to American consumers. The other bill would prevent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from approving new terminals that would export domestic natural gas.

"Low natural gas prices are a competitive advantage for American businesses and a relief for American families, and exporting our natural gas would eliminate our economic edge and impose new costs on consumers," said Rep. Markey, who is the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. "This is America's natural gas and it should stay here in America."

"Domestic natural gas belongs to all Americans, not just a few privileged drilling companies," said Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), who joined Rep. Markey in introducing the public lands bill. "Congress must act now to prevent this national resource from being shipped to our competitors overseas. Keeping American natural gas here at home is good for consumers and a step toward creating a more sustainable energy future."

Increased discoveries of natural gas in the United States combined with new extraction technologies have led to a sharp decrease in domestic natural gas prices, driving down electricity bills, costs for chemical companies, farmers and other businesses, and encouraging a shift away from dirtier fuels like coal.

International demand for natural gas, meanwhile, has increased, leading to higher prices abroad. Natural gas companies have also submitted plans for eight natural gas export terminals -- one has already been approved -- that could lead to as much as 18 percent of America's natural gas supplies being exported. Recently, the Department of Energy said that exporting that much natural gas could lead to an increase in the price of the fuel for American consumers by up to 54 percent.

The first bill, the "Keep American Natural Gas Here Act" would require the Department of Interior to only accept bids to extract the fuel on taxpayer-owned land from natural gas drilling that certify that they will offer the domestic natural gas for sale on the domestic market. The bill also says that any natural gas pipeline that for which a right-of-way is issued to cross federal lands must offer that natural gas for domestic sale only.

The second bill, the "North America Natural Gas Security and Consumer Protection Act" would forbid FERC from approving any natural gas export terminal in the United States until 2025.

"Whether it's through a pipeline or a shipping tanker, we shouldn't allow our domestic natural gas to be siphoned off to Asia, Europe or other markets when it's needed here in the United States," said Rep. Markey. "The plan to export natural gas only helps the oil and gas companies who are already making billions, while only serving to hurt millions of American families and businesses that benefit from lower prices."

According to FERC, U.S. natural gas prices are currently less than one-fifth the price of natural gas imported to India, Japan, and South Korea.

Rep. Markey has filed an amendment on the transportation bill that will be debated on the House floor later this week that would prevent the natural gas extracted from drilling portions of the bill from being sold to overseas markets.