Energy Dept. choice backs natural gas use

President Obama’s choice to lead the Energy Department pledged Tuesday to increase the use of natural gas as a way to combat climate change even as the nation seeks to boost domestic energy production.

Ernest Moniz, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said “a stunning increase” in production of domestic natural gas in recent years was nothing less than a “revolution” that has led to reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that cause global warming.

The natural gas boom also has led to a dramatic expansion of manufacturing and job creation, Moniz told the Senate Energy Committee, which is considering his nomination.

Even so, Moniz stopped short of endorsing widespread exports of natural gas, saying he wanted to study the issue further.

A recent study commissioned by the Energy Department concluded that exporting natural gas would benefit the U.S. economy even if it led to higher domestic prices for the fuel. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate energy panel, called the DOE study flawed and said it relied on old data and unrealistic market assumptions.

Moniz said he is open to reviewing the study to ensure that officials have the best possible data before making any decisions.

— Associated Press

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— From news services

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l  2 p.m.: The Federal Reserve releases minutes from the March meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.