Markey calls for Exxon/XTO merger hearing *update*

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee is calling for a special hearing into the planned merger between Exxon Mobil and XTO Energy:

“This transaction shows that natural gas–with its comparatively lower carbon content–is a bridge fuel to America’s low-carbon future, since it will play an increasing role in the coming years. However, this proposed merger also raises a number of issues with respect to the future direction of the U.S. domestic oil and gas industry, competition within the industry, and the potential environmental impact of increased unconventional natural gas development. I intend to convene hearings in the Subcommittee early next year so that our Members can take a closer look at this proposed transaction.”

The deal would make Exxon the largest natural gas producers in the U.S. (it’s currently around 9th and XTO is 3rd).
No doubt issues like environmental concerns over hydraulic fracturing are part of the reason. But there’s also the issue of natural gas as a power plant fuel which, as a helpful reader at EnergyInDepth.org pointed out, Markey believes is a key fact of life moving forward. Quoting Markey from a Newsweek-sponsored event earlier this month:

“Ninety percent of all new electrical capacity in America since 1990 has been natural gas, and it’s going to continue on that way as a base load with the new mandates for renewable electricity in the states having a higher percentage increasingly coming from that source. But natural gas is going to do very well in the future, and the discoveries from the Marcellus Shale all the way through Barnett, that is all the way from New York down to Texas, are going to be big source of new electrical generation.”

I’m pretty sure there’s not a whole lot of shale underlying Markey’s district.

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