March 20, 2012

By supporting large-scale exports of this country’s natural gas [“Natural markets,” editorial, March 15], The Post dismissed the impact on consumers and ignored the competitive advantage that the United States has in its manufacturing and industrial sector because of low natural gas prices.

If the natural gas industry has its way, more than 20 percent of this country’s fuel would be sent overseas, where gas prices are higher. Instead of enjoying reliable, low-priced natural gas, we’ll create something more akin to the international market for crude oil. The Energy Department has said that could raise prices by up to 54 percent by 2020.

The same study that The Post used to dismiss the price spikes of a natural gas export market also showed that consumers and businesses would pay $9 billion to $20 billion more per year for energy if we send natural gas abroad. That would have the effect of placing a $200 export tax on U.S. households every year. And manufacturers of fertilizers, steel, plastics, chemicals and other products that depend on natural gas would no longer have an incentive to keep jobs in this country.

Exporting this country’s natural gas is a sure-fire way to export jobs. The Energy Department has agreed to my request for a delay on the approval of new export facilities until all the economic risks are understood. I believe the only conclusion that can be reached is that sending our fuel abroad is the wrong policy for American families, farmers and factories.

Ed Markey, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents Massachusetts’s 7th District in the House of Representatives.