A leading Democratic voice on climate change in the Senate is blasting the Obama administration's Friday decision to allow the export of natural gas via pipeline to Canada, which he says will not help U.S. consumers lower their energy bills.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., says the cross-border approval was the first time the Energy Department has approved the use of a pipeline as a vehicle to export American-made natural gas to a foreign market, thereby eliminating the value of the gas to consumers in his home state and the Northeast.

"Today's announcement appears to confirm my long-standing warnings that the ultimate goal of some natural gas pipeline proposals being made in New England is not to help our residents with expanded infrastructure but to use New England as a throughway to export U.S. natural gas to Canada and ultimately to overseas markets," Markey said.

Markey used the announcement by the Energy Department to underscore the need to pass legislation he introduced, the American Natural Gas Security and Consumer Protection Act, that fixes the agency's approval process to take into consideration the effects on U.S. consumers in the states where these pipelines are built.

The bill would require the Energy Department to assess the effects of gas exports on consumers, the economy and manufacturing, as well as national security and other considerations.