Readout: Brouillette Hearing Goes Smoothly
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) Committee met yesterday (Nov. 14) to consider the nomination of Dan J. Brouillette to be the next Secretary of Energy. Brouillette is currently serving as the Deputy DOE Secretary and is expected to be easily approved to succeed Sec. Rick Perry. As far as I could ascertain the only LNG related question came from Sen. Angus King (I-ME):
King: A lot of talk about LNG exports, which have a lot of positive benefits for the American economy and also our neighbors and friends having a cleaner source of energy. My concern is that if LNG exports rise to some critical level—and I don’t know what that level is—it will start to… make [natural gas] prices higher domestically. Brouillette: [How you feel about that] depends on what part of the business you’re in. King: Exactly, and I’m in the consuming business in New England. The low price of natural gas here is one of our competitive advantages worldwide. I would hate to see us lose that by exporting to the point where it drives our domestic prices up… this happened in Australia. This isn’t just an abstract concern. Is this something you have some interest and concern about? Brouillette: Yes, we monitor it very closely as a matter of fact. I’m aware that were four or five studies that have been done… the latest one… shows that the increased in [LNG] production in the United States has not yet had a dramatic impact on price. I think that’s borne out by the market prices. King: The new production of LNG? Brouillette: The new production as well as the expanded export capacities that have developed over the course of the last four or five years. King: I would agree with that study, by I just want to keep an eye on it, because once you build $100 billion dollars’ worth of export capacity and you start exporting and then you say, ‘oh-oh, we’ve doubled our domestic prices,’ it’s too late. I just think that this is something that should be carefully weighed because of the effects on the rest of the U.S. economy. Brouillette: Yes, sir, understood. We do monitor this very closely and I will work closely with EIA and others who track these types of things for us in the department. King: I’m out of time, but I’m going to give you a question for the record, about my concern about the methane associated with the extraction of natural gas… because methane is 84 times more potent than natural gas as a greenhouse gas… 25 percent of the greenhouse gases now are methane and I’m worried that we’re not controlling that. It’s an unintended byproduct and I think it’s something we need to pay some attention to… in terms of research—and frankly—regulatory controls. Brouillette: Yes sir. King: I’ll submit a detailed question. Brouillette: I’ll respond to you.
There was one other exchange that I found worthy of your attention…
In his second round of questions, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) the Ranking Democrat: Manchin: I just want to make a statement on how important [the DOE Secretary’s] job is… When you look at the role that energy has played in history, and where we are as a people… and for our nation how we’ve been blessed to have the energy resources to defend ourselves and to build the industrial might… to be the superpower of the world… I go back to thinking about my grandparents and how they talked about the first time they received electricity. I remember that my grandmother was so tickled to have a refrigerator and a washing machine, those were the two things. Brouillette: Wow. Manchin: And today—I was just talking to staff—we probably have about a billion out of seven and a half billion people without any access to electricity… and their desire to have what we’ve taken for granted… And there [are all the other issues that fall under the purview of the Secretary of Energy]… I just want you to know that you’re going to have partners with you. We want you to succeed. We want you to do well. We want you to come to this committee and not look at us as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans that want our country to prosper but also to help lift others around the world who are seeking the same opportunities in life that we’ve been able to have. I wish you well. God speed. Brouillette: Thank you, sir.