Energy secretary backs natural gas exports


The low price of natural gas is hurting domestic job growth, and exporting a small amount of the fuel will boost the economy, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a Houston audience Thursday.

Speaking at a town hall at Houston Community College, Chu said a modest increase in the price of natural gas wouldn’t significantly raise its cost to U.S. consumers who use it to heat their homes and manufacturers who need it to make products.

Natural gas futures closed at $2.55, up 17 cents, in trading Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It brings much higher prices in other countries.

“Exporting natural gas means wealth comes into the United States,” Chu said.

The Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy is reviewing several applications to export liquefied natural gas. The exports would relieve the glut of natural gas on the domestic market and raise revenue, but also potentially increase prices for domestic consumers.

Several U.S. energy companies have announced plans to close their natural gas wells and curb spending in natural gas fields, as its price has fallen from more than $13.50 in 2008.

In his State of the Union speech last week, President Barack Obama called for an “all-of-the-above” approach to domestic energy production, including investment in oil, natural gas and renewable energy sources.

Chu said it’s important that the United States be at the forefront of innovations and technologies in renewable energy.

“We have a choice. When all these things become cost-competitive, do you want to buy or do you want to sell?” he asked. “If we are buying, that is wealth out of the country. If we are selling, that’s wealth into the country.”

Before the hour-long session with students at the college, Chu met with oil and gas executives and explored the Texas Medical Center’s energy efficiency upgrade.

At the college, he answered questions about the Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, among other topics.

Chu said the administration is open to exploring alternate routes for the pipeline that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

It’s become a touchstone issue for supporters who say it will create jobs and reduce U.S. dependence on oil from hostile nations, and opponents who argue it could threaten water supplies and promote use of an especially dirty form of oil.

Chu said he supports construction of pipelines nationwide, particularly to relieve the glut of oil at the hub in Cushing, Okla., a major price point for domestic oil.

“There is such a shortage of pipelines between Cushing and Houston,” Chu said. “There will be major construction of pipelines in the next decade or so. All the job creation from Cushing to Houston is being done now.”

Chu touted government investment in wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, as well. He said he expects the cost of solar power to fall by 50 percent within six to eight years.

Chu also dismissed Iran’s threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil shipment channel, in retaliation for international sanctions aimed at the nation’s nuclear program.

“I don’t think they can really shut down the Strait of Hormuz,” Chu said. “We certainly have capabilities to reopen it.” @SimonesNews

Categories: LNG, Natural gas
Simone Sebastian

3 Responses

  1. Monty Video says:

    Secy. Chu! Crazy name, crazy guy!

    According to POTUS in the State of the Onion speech it was the Energy Dept. under the great Secy. Chu that discovered Shale Gas.

    This is strange as according to Exxon’s ads on TV it was they that discovered what was under their feet all along.

    Even stranger is that neither of them discovered it: otherwise the govt. would not be supporting studies against fracking to stop the whole thing, and Exxon would not be desperately buying companies rich in shale gas reserves at inflated prices because they completely missed the boat at the outset.

    Of course if we export our gas as the Secy. so wisely suggests this will reduce the glut of gas, increase prices and errrr increase our bills. Brilliant!

    Naturally Steffy will have an article explaining the truth behind all this in the near future for all us that dont know nuffing. No doubt BP are to blame, I think we should be told!

  2. Peeper says:

    How the hell can they support natural gas when oil companies are the ones that produce it? The left hates oil companies but yet 50% of their reserves are nat gas

  3. Reason not religion says:

    What an absolute tool this Sec. is. At best he is just repeating the obvious. His approach to oversight of the US oil and gas sector has needlessly cost many thousands of jobs and stunted growth. Any growth seen in US O&G has only been inspite of his efforts. Then again, his boss prefers we as a nation assume the sumbnission pose so we can improt our oil from places like Brazil.