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Sierra Club Investigates Department of Energy’s Economic Study on Natural Gas Exports

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Contractor Gave Gas Exports a Clean Bill of Health – but Often Works for the Oil and Gas Industry
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Jenny Chang, jenny.chang@sierraclub.org, 202-213-3421


WASHINGTON, DC - The Sierra Club today filed a formal information request calling on the Department of Energy (DOE) to explain how it hired a notoriously anti-environmental contractor to determine whether massive increases in natural gas production for export are in the public interest. Exporting natural gas would require increased fracking in America. Fracking is a violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations and is known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes.

After a secret contracting process, DOE hired NERA Economic Consulting, which regularly consults for the American Petroleum Institute and the coal industry, to study the economics of exporting domestic natural gas. DOE’s own experts have even found that regulatory reforms are urgently needed for the fracking process, which lacks adequate protections in place at the state and federal level. Exporting natural gas would accelerate fracking before any of those much-needed protections are put in place.

According to NERA’s own figures, export would also lower wages for ordinary Americans, especially those in manufacturing jobs. It is because of these threats that some major American corporations are opposing indiscriminate exporting of natural gas. NERA nonetheless concluded that gas exports would benefit the country.

“NERA consultants have spent years testifying against public health safeguards and green jobs. They even opposed DOE’s own clean energy programs. Is it any surprise that they endorse more exports of fracked gas?” said Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign.

Sierra Club is filing a formal Freedom of Information Act Request in order to determine how NERA was picked, and to gain an understanding of the private economic model NERA used to reach its conclusions.

“Deciding to export the U.S. gas supply is a major public decision,” Nardone said. “We deserve a full and fair conversation about it. That’s why we deserve to know how and why DOE picked this anti-environmental, pro-corporate consultant for this crucial report.”

To learn more about why policymakers and the public need fair disclosure of the nation’s natural gas export policy, read this Sierra Club report.

For background information on DOE’s liquified natural gas study contractor, go here.


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