Surprise: Long-awaited report finds that exporting nat gas will boost economy

posted at 4:21 pm on December 5, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

There are several different industries, lobbies, and unions with dogs in the “should we export more natural gas?” fight, and as the Obama administration is wont to do when multiple parties are clamoring for them to make a politically difficult decision, they decided to punt on the issue until after the election.

Right now, the federal government has holds placed on liquified natural gas (LNG) exports to countries with which we don’t have special free-trade agreements. The administration was purportedly waiting on a DOE-commissioned report on whether natural-gas exports would be in the ‘national interest’ (heh, as if that was ever really the issue at hand). The report was originally meant to be finished months ago, but got conveniently delayed until after the election and has only just been released. The findings? Shocka’:

A major study commissioned by the Energy Department (DOE) concludes that expanding natural gas exports would be an economic win for the U.S., a finding that provides a political boost to lawmakers and companies pushing for approval of several applications.

“Across all these scenarios, the U.S. was projected to gain net economic benefits from allowing [liquefied natural gas] exports. Moreover, for every one of the market scenarios examined, net economic benefits increased as the level of LNG exports increased,” states the report from NERA Economic Consulting released Wednesday.

“In particular, scenarios with unlimited exports always had higher net economic benefits than corresponding cases with limited exports,” it adds.

DOE has been waiting on the study as it weighs over a dozen applications to export gas from the Gulf Coast, Oregon and other areas to nations that do not have free-trade agreements with the U.S.

One of Democrats’ and environmentalists’ main arguments against allowing the increased export of natural gas to meet the robust international demand has been the possibility of jacked-up prices — but who’s going to be charging those higher prices, and subsequently receiving those profits? We will, if we’re smart enough to allow American businesses to take advantage of our abundant natural resources, creating jobs and wealth along the way.


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