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Congressman Markey aims to prevent Alaska LNG export

Alaska Dispatch
Stephen Nowers illustration

According to numerous sources Thursday, U.S. Congressman Edward Markey, D-Mass. -- long known as an opponent of Alaska oil and gas development -- told petroleum majors ConocoPhillips, BP, and Exxon Mobil Corp. that bills he is currently pursuing would prevent them from building a $40 billion LNG project to sell Alaska's natural gas to Asia.

Recently, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell encouraged Alaska's largest producers to consider a large-scale Alaska LNG project, and the three companies have said (most recently Conoco) they are in a joint discussion of the idea.

Markey's two bills would put an end to all that, he said in a press release Wednesday, the same day the subscripion-based Financial Times reported on the companies' ongoing discussions.

Markey's press release said his bills prohibit LNG exports in two ways. One bill, the "Keep American Natural Gas Here Act," requires natural gas produced on federal land to be sold only to U.S. consumers. The other bill, the "North America Natural Gas Security and Consumer Protection Act," prohibits the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from licensing LNG terminals used for export of domestic gas.

Alaska's entire D.C. delegation is opposed to Markey's attempt, naturally, but Sen. Mark Begich was quoted by the Juneau Empire trying to make lemonade while the sun shines:

“Yet again, Rep. Markey is trying to shut down any Alaska development. I find it laughable that after 30 years of blocking the development of Alaska’s oil and gas resource for American manufacturers, farmers and families he is now demanding we supply them. I eagerly await his sponsorship of bills to support development of ANWR and the Arctic OCS to address his newfound concern for American consumers.”

Larry Persily, Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects, told APRN he doesn't expect Markey's attempt to succeed.

And on a humorous note, the Juneau Empire editorial regarding Markey's legislation considers one particular passage from the press release worthy of the world's most prolific source of fake news and satirical commentary, The Onion:

When we bought Alaska from the Russians for only $7 million, we got a great deal. If America now turns around and allows the big oil companies to sell off America’s natural gas resources in Alaska and elsewhere to the Chinese, Uncle Sam really would deserve to be called Uncle Sucker.

Read more news from the Empire, here, and from APRN, here.