Yesterday, during a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, former Sens. J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) stated their case for allowing the United States to export its vast energy reserves. The Department of Energy is currently reviewing applications to export natural gas, and we expect a decision on at least some of the applications soon. At the same time, the Army Corps is in various stages of permitting for expanded coal export capacity in the Pacific Northwest. Both sets of export projects have received significant attention and scrutiny in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Dorgan spoke on behalf of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a nonprofit that boasts both Republican and Democratic members of Congress among its staff, as well as leaders from industry and environmental groups on its board of directors.
According to Sen. Dorgan, the BPC’s Energy Board reviewed the recent studies on the impacts of LNG exports and “concluded that domestic gas prices are more likely to drive export levels than exports are likely to determine domestic prices . . . that LNG exports are likely to have at most a modest impact on domestic natural gas prices—LNG exports will adjust as U.S. prices rise or fall.” Dorgan went considerably broader than just natural gas, though. He stressed: “restricting international trade in fossil fuels is not an effective policy to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions or to advance domestic economic interests, and we recommend against any such restrictions.”
That is precisely where the NAM stands on energy exports. Manufacturers fundamentally believe in free trade and open markets—a policy that extends to energy exports. We oppose bans or similar market-distorting barriers to our energy exports. We are pleased to see the BPC take the same stance.
Sen. Johnston, a Louisiana Democrat who spent 25 years in the U.S. Senate, put it eloquently:
“The free market might not always lead to everyone’s definition of the sweet spot, but experience has shown that it is a better allocator and regulator than bureaucrats and politicians. We should heed the admonition of Adam Smith that demand begets supply: Allow the free market to allocate the nation’s newfound energy bounty.”
Manufacturers believe in a true “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that embraces all forms of domestic energy production, including oil, gas, coal, nuclear, energy efficiency, alternative fuels and renewable energy sources. We are a country built on exports—the National Association of Manufacturers was founded because our members wanted to export—and we must continue to let the principles of free trade and open markets govern in the area of energy exports.
Ross Eisenberg is vice president of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.