Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who is poised to claim the top Democratic spot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the next Congress, on Tuesday said that the United States needs to pause and take a look at “something that would resemble an American policy on energy exports.”
“It ought to include domestic-energy security, it ought to include national security, it ought to include prices, and it ought to include environmental considerations,” Wyden added, describing what such a policy would look like at a National Journal Policy Summit on natural-gas production on Tuesday.
Wyden, who also chairs the Senate Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, has previously called for a “time out” on natural-gas exports, while the federal government evaluates whether exports of liquefied natural gas are in the national interest.
Wyden on Tuesday described the natural-gas boom in the United States as a potential “economic shot in the arm” for the country, but he expressed concerns about exporting the burgeoning resource without a policy debate to think through all possible impacts.
During the summit he said that this could be done “without legislation,” but afterward Wyden told National Journal that he is not discounting the possibility of moving forward with legislation.
“There may need to be [legislation] at some point,” Wyden said, but he called for the White House to weigh in on the best way to develop an export policy.
“There’s no reason why the Obama administration — bringing together [Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu and [Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa] Jackson and folks from the National Economic Council and the like — couldn’t come forward with their own approach,” Wyden explained.
“Let’s kind of think this through carefully and yes, we may well need a piece of legislation and I’m certainly not ruling that out," he said. "But there’s no reason why the administration couldn’t move to lay one out right now.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also speaking on the National Journal panel on Tuesday, agreed that it’s important to lay out a strategy for natural-gas exports, but cautioned that it would be unfair to call for a timeout for exporters already moving forward. Instead, Manchin suggested a hold on future exports.
“Before you issue any more, let’s make sure we have a good plan going forward,” Manchin said.