Sunday, April 19, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Natural gas exports will raise prices – soon

elias column sig

By
From page A8 | May 03, 2014 |

Because of hydraulic fracturing in states such as North Dakota and Wyoming, Californians and other Americans have enjoyed lower natural gas prices over the past two winters than anytime in the past 15 years. That continues right up to this moment.

But if the natural gas industry and the Obama administration have anything to say about it, today’s relatively low-cost heating and cooking may soon be matters of nostalgia.

That’s the meaning of the three approvals already issued by the Obama-appointed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for either building new terminals to export liquefied natural gas or to convert existing import plants to export facilities. More are likely to be approved soon.

Californians should well remember liquefied natural gas, natural gas frozen into a fluid state near its source and then shipped around the world for use in places that don’t produce their own. The new American export plants, carrying benign-sounding names like Cove Point and Sabine Pass and Jordan Cove, aim to send liquefied natural gas to places like Europe, Japan, Korea, China and India. They’ve gotten new impetus from ongoing disputes between Ukraine and Russia, source of most of Europe’s natural gas.

Less than 10 years ago, Californians were battling over whether and where to put plants for importing liquefied natural gas, the result of a decision by the state Public Utilities Commission to give up some of the state’s reserved space on pipelines bringing gas here from Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.

The answers were no and nowhere. Proposals for plants near Eureka, Oxnard, Long Beach and Santa Monica all died because companies promoting liquefied natural gas imports never proved the state would ever need gas imported by sea. The later discovery of vast quantities of gas right in California, available if the massive deposits in the Monterey Shale geologic formation are ever fractured, or fracked, means California may soon need no imported gas at all.

So this state dodged a financial bullet, not getting stuck with hyper-expensive liquefied natural gas.

But prices here will nevertheless rise because of the export licenses now being handed out for gas the industry has defined as “surplus.”

This likely fact of life emerges in a remarkable letter sent to Alaska’s Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski last fall by a top federal Energy Department official.

Murkowski has pressed for quick approval of a liquefied natural gas export facility in her state, warning that “The United States has a narrowing window of opportunity to join the global gas trade.” Seeking oil- and gas-related profits and jobs for Alaska, Murkowski never acknowledges the certain effect exports will have on domestic gas prices, sure to rise if the current surplus goes overseas.

In California, price effects will probably be immediate with the opening of planned liquefied natural gas export plants near Coos Bay, Ore., and near Prince Rupert on the coast of British Columbia. Both would take allegedly surplus gas from western Canada fields that now supply California and the Pacific Northwest.

But Federal Energy Regulatory Commission doesn’t care, according to its letter to Murkowski. “We take very seriously the investment-backed expectations of private parties,” wrote Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary Paula Grant. Would the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rescind an export license if domestic gas prices rise precipitously because of that permit? No, said Grant. “DOE has no record of having vacated or rescinded an authorization to import or export natural gas over the objections of the authorization holder.”

The Energy Department is also ignoring protests by other U.S. industries whose recession recoveries have partly been fueled by low gas prices.

A group of firms led by Dow Chemical has demanded that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – which works hand-in-glove with the Energy Department – slow the rush to sell off America’s energy bonanza.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the companies say, should “clearly articulate in advance its criteria” for deciding what is in the public interest.

So far, no response, which indicates that even with a majority of commissioners appointed by an allegedly consumer-oriented Democratic president, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is no more responsive to the interests of utility customers than it was during the energy crunch of 2000-01, when Republican George W. Bush was president and the commission refused to stop predator companies that cheated Californians out of more than $10 billion.

It all assures gas prices here will rise sharply in the next year or two unless California’s congressional delegation unites to put the brakes on liquefied natural gas exports, and soon.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • The MisterMay 03, 2014 - 7:26 am

    I told you... didn't I tell you... that Obama was quietly working a deal through the new TTIP trade deal with the EU for the EU to stop buying Russia's natural gas because we, the US, would supply them. Our oil fields have been producing less and less natural gas since the peak in 2011... and now Obama is taking from our shrinking supply to power an entire continent. Is he mad!? Our supply will be slashed and availability and rationing will become our greatest concern along with hugely increased costs. We, the US, have no obligation to Europe... they are not starving or freezing. Why would Obama devastate our energy supply and our economy by giving Europe OUR natural gas? He must be an idi0t or an evil SOB... and this issue is your proof.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Waiting game: Woman, toddler hope for kidney transplants

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Tiny twins call Heather House their 1st home

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 31 Comments | Gallery

 
Solano ranks last in Bay Area for health

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

SID to consider water rate hikes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1

 
 
Il Fiorello serves up chocolate desserts

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

City announces Browns Valley Road closures

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3

 
Healthier Living program begins mid-May

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

Bachelor party turns into community event

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Coping with seasonal allergies

By Emerita Brigino-Buenaventura, M.d | From Page: C4

When to throw in the towel on sickly plants

By Karen Metz | From Page: C4

 
Church hosts health, wellness fair

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Solano superhero back in school

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Weather for Sunday, April 19, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

Home, garden show offers something for everyone

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Land use, design, project synergy key to growth

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7

2 nations at center of market drop

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
Vanden robotics team ready to compete in world championships

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Fairfield hotel gets major renovation

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Teen victim of Dixon shooting dies

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: April 17, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: April 17, 2015

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Commissary-Exchange pairing gains steam

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

Airmen with county ties complete training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

San Francisco marks anniversary of 1906 earthquake

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Time plus distance help some Oklahoma City victims move on

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Scarlett O’Hara outfit fetches $137,000 at auction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Turin Shroud goes back on display for faithful and curious

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Caged puppies on car roof trigger dozens of 911 calls

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

French replica of revolutionary frigate sets sail for Boston

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Islamic State blamed for Afghan suicide bombing killing 35

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Sound off for April 19, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Talk about corruption

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Justice not served

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 20 Comments

Clinton should spruce up a bit

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 11 Comments

 
Brown support of ag water ruffles feathers

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 19, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Sunday, April 19, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Vatican unexpectedly ends crackdown of US nun group

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Horoscopes: April 19, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
Wife needs to decide if she can tolerate husband’s binge drinking

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Anna Kendrick has book of essays coming out in 2016

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Phil Klay, Leslie Jamison among PEN award nominees

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
.

Sports

Crawford, Heston lead Giants to win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Curry scores 34, Warriors beat Pelicans 106-99 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Reddick’s 3-run homer sends A’s to 5-0 victory over Royals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Cal defense shines for a change at scripted spring game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Jones throws 2 TDs, wins challenge at Ohio State spring game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Serena Williams gets a rare test from Giorgi but holds on

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tom Watson: Next Masters might be his last

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Free agent center Wisniewski signs 1-year deal with Jaguars

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Pete Rose hired by Fox as special guest studio analyst

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Marcotte, Ryan win US cycling Criterium championships

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Independent league experiments with 3-ball walks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Merritt maintains edge through 3 rounds at RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
As Spurs know, international players can impact NBA playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Rose scores 23, Bulls beat Bucks 103-91

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Harden has 24 points, Rockets beat Mavs 118-108 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Pierce leads Wizards past Raptors in OT in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Logano leads flag-to-flag to win Xfinity race at Bristol

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Hometown report: Little League baseball

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Hometown report: Youth track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Kenseth content in car and not contemplating retirement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
This date in sports history for April 19

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Business

Using a prepaid card? Avoid getting socked with fees

By The Washington Post | From Page: B7

 
This year’s fight for the tech industry: Patent trolls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Recalls this week: blowers, bike hooks, mattresses, toys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
IMS: US prescription drug spending jumped 13 percent in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Fast-growing Asian aviation confronts safety challenges

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
 
.

Obituaries

Carole Anspach

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Frances Bayona Lozano

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert Larkin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Barbara Medders

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Carrol “Carl” Gordon Parker

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
John Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Allen Ellsworth Dolby Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sterling Jenkins

By Nancy Green | From Page: A5

Dennis Burkhart von Ting

By Nancy Green | From Page: A5

 
.

Comics