NYT: The U.S. should definitely export more natural gas

posted at 1:41 pm on December 17, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Despite a recent DOE-commissioned report confirming that allowing for more exports of liquified natural gas would indeed be a boon for the economy, certain lawmakers and naysayers are still making hay over the ostensible possibilities for negative economic impact. Given the many solid reasons for allowing the natural-gas industry greater freedom and the few trivial non-impediments, the fact that this debate can still be categorized as “ongoing” is getting pretty ridiculous:

The net effect is a reshaping of the U.S. energy industry and our economy. Additionally, the country’s increased reliance on natural gas (displacing coal) has already benefited the environment, and will continue to do so in the future. Carbon emissions hit a 20-year low (in the first quarter 2012 according to EIA)  and some industry observers believe that the U.S. could meet the Kyoto agreement standards by 2020 (even though the U.S. did not sign it). …

Some studies indicate that the U.S. has avoided retreating into an economic recession as a result of activity in the unconventional oil and gas sector. Production areas for unconventional oil and gas have observed very low unemployment and stronger GDP and tax revenues as compared to the rest of the U.S. As a result of the significant near term investments associated with unconventional oil and gas, it’s possible that up to 3.5 million jobs will be created from the infrastructure build out and related opportunities (including both direct and indirect jobs).

What could impede U.S. progress? Political gridlock.

Aaand how! The U.S. government actively involves itself in supporting American exports in other sectors (agriculture being the most obvious example), but suddenly when it comes to natural gas exports, they find themselves unsure of what to do? This is one of the worst problems of a big, over-bureaucratized government: It caters not to the country’s general interest, but to the country’s specific interests. Environmental groups that loathe fracking, along with certain industries that use a lot of natural gas and fear higher prices, are LNG-exports’ main opponents, but the influx of jobs creation and economic growth would benefit Americans across the board.

The Obama administration is currently sitting on at least 15 applications from energy companies for new export terminals, and they’re scheduled to decide on just four of them in 2013. The Obama administration should hurry up and get a move on, since the benefits are undeniably manifold — as the NYT acknowledged in a weekend editorial, hem hem:

Production from shale gas fields has swelled American reserves and driven down prices by two-thirds since 2008. American natural gas is now among the cheapest fuels anywhere in the world and costs as little as one-fourth of what the fuel sells for in Europe and Asia.

There will be trade-offs to lifting the export restrictions. On the plus side, the report says that exports of gas in liquefied form could provide a $47 billion boost to the economy by 2020, including the construction of gas terminals. While the report dwells largely on economic issues, exports would also help to lower emissions linked to global climate change by giving countries like India, China, Japan and Germany access to a cleaner energy source than coal.

Greater gas exports could also factor into American foreign policy. By offering countries like India and China access to cheap American gas, Washington could make it more palatable for them to join in supporting sanctions against Iran, for instance. And it could give the United States new leverage in trade negotiations.

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It’s up to the companies in my opinion, but I think it’d be best to keep it here thus lowering the coast of energy for Americans. The NYT wants to export it so we can keep the cost relatively high, thus creating a false need for green energy.

MoreLiberty on December 17, 2012 at 1:46 PM

NYT: The U.S. should definitely export more natural gas

NYSlimes to denounce themselves as evil killers of Mother Gaia and causers of Anthropogenic Global Warming in 3…2…1…

On the tragic loss of 20 innocent children.

SWalker on December 17, 2012 at 1:50 PM

It makes a lot more sense to keep it here and use it than export it. Why not give up on electric cars and go with natural gas cars? Two birds, one stone. How much is that lower pricing saving all of us right now?

I’ve never been a fan of losing the energy compressing and cooling the natural gas just to put it somewhere else.

aniptofar on December 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM

If it’s the right thing to do then don’t look for it to get done by Bammie and the Obamatons any time soon.

SD Tom on December 17, 2012 at 1:53 PM

How long till bho’s union thug port workers go on strike to see to this doesn’t happen? Can’t have the US actually make money unless bho/team says we can now can we?

letget on December 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Thank God! Lets stick it to the Russians, mo money mo money!

RAGIN CAJUN on December 17, 2012 at 2:10 PM

NYT: The U.S. should definitely export more natural gas

Doesn’t the Slimes know that Hillary is stepping down??

ToddPA on December 17, 2012 at 2:15 PM

It’s up to the companies in my opinion, but I think it’d be best to keep it here thus lowering the coast of energy for Americans

But that can’t happen forever–producers will respond to lower prices by reducing the supply. It’s just a matter of turning some valves off until the price goes up and finds its fair market price. (That’s assuming no cartel action to keep prices up.)

albo on December 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

How about exporting to Europe so they can get out from under Russia’s thumb AND can stop the very quiet but real practice of trading a very liberal Muslim immigration policy for oil. Europe has for decades allowed a high level of Muslim immigration in exchange for energy. It’s suicide and we can stop it.

Charlemagne on December 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM

MoreLiberty on December 17, 2012 at 1:46 PM

aniptofar on December 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM

The one point y’all are missing is that having a set volume for export, under a long term contract, would stabilize the price of NG for several years. Yes, it might be a slightly higher price than what is paid today but not so high that it would harm either the chemical industry, manufacturers or the power generation sector (and us as consumers).
I have been closely following the Haynesville Shale boom since 2008 and a stable price would encourage the continued development of this high cost resource. If the price doesn’t improve somewhat, to around $4.00-$5.00/mcf, the gas in this play will stay in the ground, the gas in storage will eventually decline while the demand stays the same or grows, and the price will then rise anyhow… and probably to much higher levels than anticipated due to modest exports. It is self-defeating to side with the groups who want to keep all this gas at home, IMHO.

jffree1 on December 17, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Charlemagne on December 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Beat me to it. Exxon has had a lawsuit against Gasprom for several years over their inability to sell gas from the fields they developed with Russia. Gasprom says they can only sell domestically to them while Exxon claims the market should determine the price. Since the price is so low Exxon is kind of slow walking the lawsuit but every winter Europe has to dance to the tune Russia plays over gas.

Something tells me the market is far from free regarding this issue.

DanMan on December 17, 2012 at 2:38 PM

They have to let us get the natural gas before we can sell it. My solution to the economy/deficit is to sell public land (similiar to what Texas did when she was land rich and cash poor). Now private land owners can develop the land and drill or whatever. Now you have revenue from land sales, land owners creating jobs through oil and gas leases, people actually working, revenue generated through prosperity, and less government control. Oil and gas companies are pretty good stewards of the land and resources, much better than the government.

DAT60A3 on December 17, 2012 at 2:39 PM

I know it’s not the point of the post at all, but when I look at those ships with their big ol’ globular tanks of LNG, I think TARGET. (No, not the store.) How IED-proof are those things, anyway?

Marcola on December 17, 2012 at 2:47 PM

How IED-proof are those things, anyway?

Marcola on December 17, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Probably less vulnerable than the average bulk storage facility. A refinery, storage facility, or petrochemical plant is usually protected by a chain link fence with a guard shack. Somebody with evil intent can easily do a great deal of damage.

DAT60A3 on December 17, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Of course. In the minds of liberals other nations should have cheap energy. We should have windmills.

pat on December 17, 2012 at 3:01 PM

I’m reading that natural gas burns real clean, it’s exhaust is CO2 and water vapor. I read that at a lib site, where they temporarily must have forgot that co2 is the satan of their weather religion. I wonder if natural gas combusts into more greenhouse gases than coal per unit of work. I bet it does, and that’s fine with me because co2 and water vaport is clean and harmless, but the lack of constitency by the Gore-bots is amusing.

Buddahpundit on December 17, 2012 at 3:20 PM

More tax dollars for the oil and gas industry so the costs to sell American natural resources overseas is reduced and profits increased. Where you guys in charge of TARP?

plewis on December 17, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Agree we should keep it here. Govt does have const’l authority to regulate intl trade. Sure th producers could shut valves but keep them from selling it overseas for several years and they’ll cave. Free trade (which as currently practiced really isn’t) has been a net loss for the country. Lets not sell china our enemy our natural resources. We’ve given them enough rope to hang us with.

avgjo on December 17, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Typical NYT logic on display here. Build LNG terminals to provide the unions with jobs, while at the same time ban fracking and all other natural gas extraction methods, so the terminals sit idle once they’re built. Then we can just move those union workers on to the next make-work project that ends up providing no actual benefit to anyone.

Paul Krugman must have written this editorial.

Gator Country on December 17, 2012 at 6:05 PM

The U.S. should definitely export more natural gas

Not gonna happen. Not with this President. We might GIVE it away to the poooorr though. Remember boys and girls – this is all about redistribution and laying the big-bad USA low for the good of the world.

Mr Galt on December 17, 2012 at 11:05 PM

…can’t do that!…that would be a good thing!

KOOLAID2 on December 17, 2012 at 11:43 PM

More tax dollars for the oil and gas industry so the costs to sell American natural resources overseas is reduced and profits increased. Where you guys in charge of TARP?

plewis on December 17, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Where you godless reprobate?

tom daschle concerned on December 18, 2012 at 8:30 AM