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Record LNG Exports Contribute To 400% Price Spike As Polar Vortex Descends on U.S.

President Biden must establish safeguards to protect families from record LNG exports sending energy costs soaring

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As a polar vortex sends temperatures tumbling to record lows across the United States, the price of natural gas spiked, resulting in a 400% increase in the spot price of Henry Hub, America’s key price benchmark for natural gas. Traders sent the price of Henry Hub gas soaring from $3 per million British thermal units to $17 in a matter of hours as freezing temperatures meant higher domestic demand to heat homes and fuel electricity, and volatile trading activity will likely persist at key US gas pricing hubs. Prices in a key Pacific Northwest trading hub exceeded $1,000 after a fiber optic cable failure at the Jackson Prairie gas storage facility triggered emergency energy conservation warnings during extreme cold weather. Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, issued the following statement: 

“The explosion in LNG exports since 2016 has resulted in a far more fragile and volatile balance between supply and demand. Exports of LNG have created higher prices for U.S. consumers, leaving them vulnerable to massive price spikes like what happened this weekend. U.S. gas demand hit a record high over the weekend, led by record exports.

“Biden’s Energy Department has failed to implement procedures restricting gas exports during extreme weather events, or proactively establish seasonal standards to curtail exports in advance of pending extreme weather events.

“Nearly 90 years ago, Congress mandated that most natural gas could only be exported if the government first determined that doing so was ‘consistent with the public interest.’ The Biden Administration’s Energy Department is in charge of enforcing this law, and has presided over unprecedented volumes of natural gas exports, exacerbating higher prices during winter storms.

“The Biden Administration must follow the directive mandated by Congress and reassess its methodology for authorizing LNG exports, and establish proactive standards to curtail exports in the event of emergencies and seasonal demand surges.”

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