* Energy Department faces decision on natural gas exports
* Wyden to Chu: Explain how rules will be established
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Oct 23 The U.S. Energy Department
needs to explain how it will determine whether to allow more
exports of the nation's bountiful supplies of natural gas, a top
Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee said on Tuesday.
Senator Ron Wyden, who is in line to be the next chairman of
the panel if Democrats hold the Senate after the Nov. 6
elections, asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu to explain "the
actual decision-making criteria" that will be used to rule on
applications to export liquefied natural gas, or LNG.
"I request an all-inclusive description of the factors that
DOE will consider in determining whether to approve a supplier's
authority to export LNG, and what factors DOE will consider in
revoking such authority," Wyden wrote in a letter he sent Chu on
The Energy Department was reviewing Wyden's request, a
spokeswoman said, noting the agency would look at a variety of
issues when deciding whether export applications are in the
"Among other factors, those public interest determinations
will include both economic and environmental considerations, as
well as the impact on domestic natural gas prices and supplies
and the impact on economic growth and U.S. industries," Jen
Stutsman said in a n emailed statement.
The United States has been flooded with natural gas because
of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking,"
technology that has helped drillers tap supplies trapped in
shale rock formations.
Some companies want to export the surplus, which they say
would help stabilize prices for producers without unduly raising
prices for consumers.
Natural gas exports to all but a handful of countries with
free trade agreements with the United States require approval
from the DOE.
So far, the government has approved exports from one
project, Cheniere's Sabine Pass terminal, a 2 billion
cubic feet per day project located in western Cameron Parish,
The department has put off decisions on other applications
pending a study it commissioned to evaluate the economic impact
of LNG exports, now expected to be released by the end of the
Wyden said the DOE should explain how it will consider the
impact of exports on domestic supplies and prices, electricity
prices, jobs and manufacturing, the economy and air pollution.