Oregon’s Democratic US Senator Ron Wyden, who is preparing to head the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, believes the nation should move cautiously on natural gas exports but is open to sharing revenues from offshore oil and gas development in federal waters with state governments. Wyden made his comments Sunday on “Platts Energy Week,” an all-energy news and talk show program.
Wyden, who will replace New Mexico Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman as the committee’s chairman when the 113th Congress convenes in January, has asked US Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu to explain the agency’s criteria in approving applications to export liquefied natural gas.
“I think we ought to look before we leap,” Wyden noted.
He also said Congress was “in the dark” about criteria the DOE is using to approve such applications.
Wyden said he wanted environmental impacts, such as the effects of hydraulic fracturing and methane emissions, to be considered when deliberating the export of LNG. He called gas a “strategic” resource and said the US should “wring every bit of value out of it.” But he also said he did not want approval of LNG exports to drive up gas prices in the United States.
In addition, Wyden outlined his approach to considering revenue-sharing agreements with states in connection with oil and gas development in offshore federal waters.
While he stopped short of calling for the expansion of such drilling to federal waters along the US East and West coasts, where it is currently blocked by the Obama administration, he said the panel would look at expanding offshore drilling into new areas that the administration had already approved. Assessments of potential offshore energy development would possibly include consideration of revenue sharing for offshore renewable energy projects in certain states.
“I think there's a chance to develop a third path in between those that want no revenue sharing and those who do want revenue sharing,” he said.
Wyden said revenue sharing had long been a cause for “stark division” of the committee. Bingaman has long opposed revenue sharing with states bordering any federal waters.