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Letter: Using Ukraine as excuse to export

Men with Cabot Oil and Gas work on

Men with Cabot Oil and Gas work on a natural gas valve at a hydraulic fracturing site on Jan. 18, 2012 in South Montrose, Pennsylvania. Credit: Getty Images

Energy companies that produce and sell liquefied natural gas -- which have always been interested in profits, first and foremost -- are suddenly shedding crocodile tears over the plight of Ukrainians who might face a cutoff of Russian gas. Their concern is a ruse to increase profits.

Along with their congressional cronies, the companies want to fast-track exports to NATO members and other countries, including Japan and India, so that a mere entry into the Federal Register will suffice for approval. Proposed legislation would require Energy Department regulators to affirm that proposed exports are "consistent with the public interest" without any deliberation.

The health and environmental hazards caused by hydraulic fracturing -- the process by which natural gas is extracted -- are well documented. Despite that, energy firms keep lobbying for the rights to more drilling, more pipelines and more exporting facilities.

Right now, the United States has low natural gas prices compared with other countries. The price in the United Kingdom is double what we pay; in Japan it is quadruple. However, natural gas is a fungible commodity. When companies can get higher prices for the gas extracted from our ground, U.S. prices will inevitably rise. Indeed, they are on the upsurge. Why should they sell it to Americans at one quarter of what they can get in Japan?

Save your sympathies for U.S. consumers, who will be left to deal with the disgusting fracking aftermath, rather than for the bottom lines of energy companies.

Ruth Shalom, Great Neck


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