After expressing concerns for months that President Obama was moving too fast approving exports of natural gas, a senior Senate Democrat now says she’s “comfortable” with the strategy.
This shift in position by Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan comes as the Energy Department on Tuesday green-lighted another application to export natural gas overseas, the sixth such approval in the last two years.
Stabenow, who chairs the Agriculture Committee and is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, says she’s been talking with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on this issue.
“I’ve been working with the secretary, and I’m comfortable with what he is talking about as a strategy at this point longer-term,” Stabenow said Tuesday. “I’m not going to object to this particular one [export license]. I think we’re more on the same wavelength.”
Last month, Stabenow said she was considering placing a hold on Christopher Smith, an Energy Department official overseeing the export policy who has been nominated as assistant secretary for fossil energy at DOE. “I am concerned that they are not understanding that they need to have a pause in the new approvals on facilities until we see what impact the current approvals will have “¦ how it affects manufacturing,” Stabenow said in January.
On Tuesday, the Energy Department approved a project in Louisiana to export natural gas to countries that aren’t free-trade partners with the United States, a process that includes more federal restrictions than exports to countries that are free-trade partners with the U.S.
Stabenow’s comments were more positive in reaction to Tuesday’s approval than those of Dow Chemical, a global company headquartered in Michigan. Dow and other manufacturers that use natural gas as a feedstock, such as aluminum-maker Alcoa, are opposed to increasing exports too much out of concern it could raise domestic prices, which have been near record lows because of the natural-gas boom in the last several years.
In a statement Tuesday, Dow urged the administration to hit the pause button on approval of liquefied-natural-gas exports to countries that don’t have free-trade agreements with the United States. More than 20 such applications are pending at the Energy Department.
“Moving forward, we recommend that DOE strongly considers taking a pause in the LNG export approval process to fully understand the long-term implications of these approvals,” a Dow spokesperson said in an email. “As natural gas prices continue to rise over 30 percent, it will demonstrate to the American public that DOE is committed to putting the consumer before the oil and gas industry.”
Some energy analysts predict the Energy Department may indeed move forward with this “pause” approach on future approvals, which have been coming at semi-regular intervals every few months. But Stabenow said Moniz had not committed to her verbally that he was planning such a pause.
What We're Following See More »
The indictment, filed in the District of Columbia, alleges that the interference began "in or around 2014," when the defendants began tracking and studying U.S. social media sites. They "created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts" and "purchased computer servers located inside the United States" to mask their identities, some of which were stolen. The interference was coordinated by election interference "specialists," and focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration, and other divisive issues. "By early to mid-2016" the groups began supporting the campaign of "then-candidate Donald Trump," including by communicating with "unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign..."
"Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. Gates has already spoken to Mueller's team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He's had what criminal lawyers call a 'Queen for a Day' interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors' team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed."
"The Senate on Thursday rejected immigration legislation crafted by centrists in both parties after President Trump threatened to veto the bill if it made it to his desk. In a 54-45 vote, the Senate failed to advance the legislation from eight Republican, seven Democratic and one Independent senators. It needed 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. "
"The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a Thursday meeting to hear testimony from Steve Bannon—but it's an open question whether President Donald Trump's former chief strategist will even show up. The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump's transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move intended to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period." Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee dispute the White House's theory, and have floated charging Bannon with contempt should he refuse to appear.