By Charles Abbott
WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - 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.