Debate Over Natural-Gas Exports Flares Up in Senate Hearing

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks during a press conference calling for passage of mental health legislation as part of a gun safety package with U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) at the U.S. Capitol April 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. The legislation would expand access to treatment and improve the quality of care at community mental health centers. 
National Journal
Clare Foran
Jan. 16, 2014, 6:11 a.m.

A Sen­ate pan­el voted to ad­vance a slate of nom­in­a­tions for high-rank­ing In­teri­or and En­ergy De­part­ment posts on Thursday, des­pite strong op­pos­i­tion to one of the nom­in­ees from Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who voiced con­cern that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is mov­ing too fast in its ap­prov­al of nat­ur­al-gas ex­port ter­min­als. 

The Michigan sen­at­or, whose state is home to chem­ic­al-man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Dow Chem­ic­al, was the only mem­ber of the Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee to vote against the oth­er­wise non­con­tro­ver­sial nom­in­a­tion of Chris­toph­er Smith to be­come as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary for fossil en­ergy at DOE.

“I still am very con­cerned about Chris­toph­er Smith,” Stabenow said dur­ing the hear­ing. “I don’t be­lieve there’s an un­der­stand­ing at DOE of the bal­ance that we need between ex­port­ing nat­ur­al gas and un­der­stand­ing the crit­ic­al re­source we have for im­prov­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing in our coun­try by keep­ing prices low for con­sumers and man­u­fac­tur­ers.”

Crit­ics of ex­pan­ded ex­ports say that if U.S. nat­ur­al gas is shipped abroad, it will push up prices do­mest­ic­ally. Sup­port­ers counter that ex­ports would bol­ster trade and aid the eco­nomy. 

Stabenow’s con­cern over what she de­scribes as the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fast pace of ap­provals for new ex­port ter­min­als is strong enough that the sen­at­or was weigh­ing a hold on the nom­in­ee as of last week.

Sen. John Bar­rasso, a Wyom­ing Re­pub­lic­an, was quick to counter Stabenow’s as­ser­tion dur­ing the hear­ing. “It’s not that this ad­min­is­tra­tion is act­ing too fast on li­que­fied nat­ur­al-gas ex­ports,” he said. “This ad­min­is­tra­tion is act­ing too slow.”

He ad­ded: “In three and a half years, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has used its dis­cre­tion to ap­prove only five ap­plic­a­tions for li­que­fied nat­ur­al gas. Mean­while the ad­min­is­tra­tion is sit­ting on over 20 pending ap­plic­a­tions.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Vir­gin­ia Demo­crat, also de­fen­ded the nom­in­a­tion.

Ad­dress­ing Stabenow dir­ectly, Manchin said: “You’re say­ing he just wants to throw cau­tion to the wind, I didn’t get that at all.”

“I in­ter­viewed Chris Smith also and I found not that he wanted to turn the spig­ots loose, but ba­sic­ally he was look­ing for that bal­ance,” Manchin said. 

Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ron Wyden, an Ore­gon Demo­crat, ac­know­ledged that de­bate over fossil-fuel ex­ports is heat­ing up and an­nounced that the com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing on crude-oil ex­ports the week after Con­gress re­turns from re­cess. An aide for the com­mit­tee con­firmed that the hear­ing will take place Jan. 30.

Amy Harder contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
DONATING TO FOOD BANKS
Government Buying $20 Million in Cheese
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Thanks to competition from Europe, America's cheese stockpiles are at a 30-year high. Enter the U.S. government, which announced it's buying 11 million pounds of the stuff (about $20 million). The cheese will be donated to food banks.

Source:
BRIEFER THAN TRUMP’S?
Clinton to Receive Classified Briefing on Saturday
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×