Co-authored by Lee Fang and Steve Horn.
The 2014 U.S. congressional mid-term elections are now complete, and the Republican Party controls both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Some have forecasted that this could have catastrophic impacts for progress on climate change and environmental protection in general.
But below the radar in Washington DC — little noticed by the media or public — a major change on energy policy has already been long in the making. Corporate lobbyists have helped to engineer a transformative shift with little scrutiny or meaningful debate: plans to extract U.S. natural gas and export the gas overseas to more lucrative markets.
This shift — if fully realized — will continue to transition the U.S. into a resource colony, where our communities, homes, air, and water are exploited and polluted so that large multinational corporations can pursue ever-higher profits by selling U.S. fossil fuels abroad.
The rise of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” oil and gas wells has resulted in an excess of oil and gas in the United States, lowering prices and clogging markets.
Fracking also poses well-known threats to water supplies, the environment, and public health for local communities, and contributes to climate disruption by leaking vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere, making so called “clean burning natural gas” not so clean.
As a December 2012 report commissioned by the Department of Energy confirmed, exporting natural gas will contribute to higher energy prices for U.S. consumers because it will deplete domestic gas reserves.
Federal agencies have expedited permits for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals, with four already approved and many more lined up waiting for approval. There is little doubt that this maneuver will lock in demand to accelerate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to obtain more natural gas to support the export market.
Big oil and gas companies have engineered this policy outcome through shrewd hiring of Washington insider lobbyists and public relations professionals: Obama and Bush Administration veterans, as well as former Capitol Hill staffers, who have moved through Washington’s revolving door to high-paying influence peddling jobs.
If the Obama Administration and the GOP-led Congress, prodded by industry lobbyists, pick LNG export acceleration as an area for bipartisan cooperation, they will hurt U.S. consumers and our environment and make global warming worse.
This report explores the people and companies involved in the influence-peddling lobbying apparatus dominating the LNG export process.