U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., told oil giants BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil his natural gas export bills now in Congress would block a proposed $40 billion pipeline to export Alaska natural gas to Asia.
The bills, originally introduced in February, drew a sharp response from Alaska’s Sen. Mark Begich.
The $40 billion plan was covered by Financial Times reporter Ed Crooks on Wednesday (on.ft.com/GF4pMJ). Markey released an announcement the same day in which he “decried the plans” to allow export of “American natural gas to China.”
Markey said his suite of bills prohibit liquefied natural gas exports in two ways. One bill requires natural gas extracted from federal lands to be sold to U.S. consumers (Keep American Natural Gas Here Act). The other bill prohibits the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from licensing LNG terminals used for export of domestic gas (North America Natural Gas Security and Consumer Protection Act).
Markey said the purpose of one bill is to keep natural gas prices low in the U.S. by shielding the U.S. market from the volatility of the international market.
“Natural gas prices in Asia are six times higher than prices in the United States,” Markey stated in the release.
Markey introduced his bills in February.
Begich found Markey’s announcement ironic.
“Yet again, Rep. Markey is trying to shut down any Alaska development,” Begich said. “I find it laughable that after 30 years of blocking the development of Alaska’s oil and gas resource for American manufacturers, farmers and families he is now demanding we supply them. I eagerly await his sponsorship of bills to support development of ANWR and the Arctic OCS to address his newfound concern for American consumers.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s energy committee spokesman, Robert Dillon, said any attempt to ban exports is “short sighted.”
Alaska needs to remain flexible when looking for customers, he said.
“Alaskan gas is going to go where the market demands,” Dillon said.
It is not going to the Lower 48 if there isn’t a demand, Dillon said.
Alaska’s congressional delegation, he said he believed, would work to exclude Alaska from the reach of Markey’s bills.
• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.