Expect the LNG-export battle to continue, despite the economically obvious

posted at 8:01 pm on December 6, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Yesterday, the Department of Energy finally released an economic-impact report they commissioned that found that, why yes — allowing American companies to export natural gas would in fact be an economic boon. As Mark Mills writes for Forbes, it’s almost like the Department of Energy has finally discovered Economics 101 or something:

Apparently exporting something America has in abundance creates economic value — in this case, natural gas, not wheat (but that would be obvious).  And the more of it you export, the more money you can make.  And apparently in Washington D.C. this is “breaking news.”

The Department of Energy (DOE) released a report it commissioned from venerable NERA Economic Consulting: Macroeconomic Impacts of LNG Exports form the United States.  Their mission?  “… use its NewERA model to evaluate the macroeconomic impact of LNG exports.”  Their findings?

  • Across all these [various levels of export] scenarios, the U.S. was projected to gain net economic benefits from allowing LNG exports. Moreover, for every one of the market scenarios examined, net economic benefits increased as the level of LNG exports increased. [emphasis added]

And…

  • LNG exports have net economic benefits in spite of higher domestic natural gas prices. This is exactly the outcome that economic theory describes when barriers to trade are removed.

But it goes without saying that Democrats heeding the positive review and recommendations of a report commissioned to once again rehash things that the government already actively endorses in other economic sectors, would just be too easy. From The Hill:

The report, commissioned by the Energy Department (DOE), was a win for export advocates who are urging DOE to approve a slew of application to send liquefied natural gas abroad.

Not so fast, says Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is the incoming chairman of the Senate’s energy committee and a critic of export proposals.

“My staff has already spotted some concerns [with the report],” Wyden told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday. “Particularly they are concerned that the projection that they used for purposes of saying ‘this would be the amount exported’ is significantly under what is now already evident.”

Of course. There are too many parties with very keen interests in this thing to just let it go already, so we’ll keep playing political ping-pong with the issue for who knows how long yet. Worldwide demand for our energy stores is undeniably increasing, and there are 15 applications for licenses to export liquified natural gas currently pending at the DOE. It shouldn’t be up to politicians with a whole heap of sketchy interests to dither over the issue while our economy waits on their largesse. Our stagnant growth and unemployment could certainly use the help — it’s time to start cookin’ with gas.


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