By Charles Abbott
WASHINGTON Dec 6 Increasing exports of U.S.
natural gas would raise domestic prices, hurt the U.S.
manufacturing sector and lead to fewer jobs, Democratic Senator
Debbie Stabenow said on Thursday.
Stabenow's opposition adds heft to arguments from Senator
Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, and other
lawmakers who question the merits of allowing for an expansion
of liquefied natural gas exports.
"It makes no sense," said Stabenow, who represents Michigan,
where manufacturing jobs are key to the economy, and chairs the
Senate Agriculture Committee. Natural gas is a major component
of nitrogen fertilizer, used by corn farmers.
"We own this," Stabenow said of bountiful U.S. natural gas
supplies. "Why in the world would we create the situation" where
employment goes down and prices go up, she told reporters.
The Obama administration has put more than a dozen proposed
export projects on hold over the past year as it studies the
impact of more exports on prices and the domestic economy.
The Energy Department on Wednesday released a study it
commissioned that showed shipping surplus gas abroad would
benefit the economy on a net basis, but could affect consumers
and have an impact on industries that hope to capitalize on
cheap natural gas.