A two-hour hearing yesterday by the Senate Energy Committee became a venue for manic statements by lawmakers and witnesses on the glories of the new U.S. and global “natural gas revolution”—fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and the LNG (liquefied natural gas) trade—which, they said, will enable the defeat of Russian “aggression.”
The idea is that the U.S. government should rush to approve construction of domestic LNG-export facilities, push fracking in Europe, and back integrated national gas pipeline systems in Europe, in order to roll back Russian gas exports, including to Asia. Despite a long lead-time for construction (the first U.S. LNG exporting is to start in December 2015), the advocates said that pushing natural gas will “send a signal” to our allies, that we will stand up to Putin!
In reality, the ‘Made in London’ imprint on this madness shows that it is the anti-nuclear, crazed energy policy of the Royal Dutch Shell gang, labelled as anti-Putin “foreign policy.”
One witness said, “The geopolitical imperative is clear. The Russian dominance of European energy markets and the predominance of high-cost oil-linked gas prices in both Europe and Asia threatens the energy security of our friends and allies, and of the U.S. by extension.” This was the testimony by David L. Goldwyn, formerly the international fracking proponent at the State Department. He called for a big expansion of fracking and gas exports, as a matter of “national interest.” His testimony was titled, “The Role of Natural Gas Exports in U.S. Foreign Policy.”
The Obama Administration gave approval two days ago for an LNG export site at Jordan Cove, Oregon to proceed. This is the 7th approval, since the first one in 2011, at Sabine Pass, on the Louisiana Coast. Twenty-four more are pending.
Lithuanian Energy Minister Jaroslav Neverovic gave testimony at the hearing, imploring Senators to speed up permits for new U.S. LNG exporting sites. He said he is proud Lithuania joined NATO 10 years ago. He wants Russia’s “monopoly” power over energy reduced. Before the end of the year, Lithuania will open its first LNG import terminal—a floating re-gassification plant to anchor at the country’s main seaport, Klaipeda.
Throughout Europe, there are currently 22 LNG importing sites. Witnesses called for more gas to flow in, and also for more “indigenous” European gas production, that is, to open up shale gas wells. Witnesses denounced the prohibitions in France and Germany against fracking.
The new Committee chairman, Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and the Minority Leader, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), extolled the new gas revolution. Landrieu said it’s a “badge of honor” to be on Russia’s sanctions list.
Among the very few expressions of reality were questions from three Senators. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) raised the question of fracking being bad for the environment in the Western states. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) posed that gas exports can harm domestic users, given that 250,000 people in her state were hit by propane scarcity and hyperinflation this Winter, while record volumes of propane were shipped abroad. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) questioned the gas frenzy, pointing out that the Administration’s “All of the Above” energy policy in fact excludes coal. He said that West Virginia would have no market at all, if it weren’t for exporting to Europe right now. All of these were brushed off.