U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to examine the increasingly important role of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) and launched a new Strategic Energy Initiative.
Murkowski opened the hearing by underscoring the growth and potential of U.S. natural gas and natural gas exports.
"Our production has soared to levels many never thought possible even a decade ago. This is, in turn, boosting our economy and our national security, while providing a long-term, low-cost, low-emission source of energy," Murkowski said. "The consensus among experts is that LNG will continue to be a major driver of demand growth well into the next decade, from developed countries in Europe to fast-growing economies like India. We have an opportunity to lead in a very competitive global market, but the window is narrowing."
During the hearing, Murkowski announced her Strategic Energy Initiative, which begins today with the release of a new white paper entitled, With Powers So Disposed. The paper's title references President George Washington's farewell address, which extolled the virtues of free trade but cautioned it must also be fair.
"As we look at our growing exports, we should also look at ways the U.S. can support imports by other countries to advance both our economic and our security interests," Murkowski said. "We need a real strategy focused on the nexus between commodities and infrastructure, not one or the other. That's why I'm pleased to release this paper, which provides a framework to strengthen our nation's geopolitical posture."
Murkowski also discussed Alaska's role in domestic and global LNG markets.
"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission just released the draft environmental impact statement for the Alaska LNG project, which could move our tremendous reserves of conventional gas on the North Slope to market. It's a rigorous document and an important milestone in the federal permitting process. We continue to recognize that Alaska's gas is a remarkable resource that will add to the energy security of the U.S. and our allies."
The hearing featured testimony from five witnesses: the Department of Energy's Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, Sempra Energy's Dennis Arriola, Melanie Hart from the Center for American Progress, Charlie Riedl of the Center for LNG, and Nikos Tsafos from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The United States is now the world's number one producer of natural gas, and a net exporter of the commodity for the first time since the 1950s. Rising domestic production has led to significantly lower energy prices for American families and businesses, and the domestic resource base is so extensive that it is also possible to export substantial volumes to countries around the world. According to the Department of Energy, the nation's current LNG export capacity (five billion cubic feet per day) is on track to double by the end of next year.
Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today's hearing can be found on the committee's website. Click here, here and here to view Murkowski's questions for the witnesses.