Huzzah: DOE approves another natural-gas export terminal

posted at 6:01 pm on September 13, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

It’s a small victory, but heck — the encouraging economic moves from this administration are painfully few and far between, and it’s Friday, so I’m taking it.

The battle over whether and how much natural gas the United States should export to countries with whom the United States doesn’t already have specialized free trade agreements has been raging for months, and I’m taking this as a tentative sign that the administration is finally realizing what a giant gift they’ve been handed in the form of the shale oil-and-gas boom. The domestic energy sector (and no, I’m not talking about windmills) has largely served as the economic saving grace of the Obama presidency, and although they don’t want to acknowledge it too loudly (I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot about how natural gas is a good “bridge fuel” on our way to more ‘sustainable’ ‘renewables’), they seem to be picking up the pace on letting these ponies run. Via Reuters:

The Obama administration on Wednesday authorized natural gas exports from a fourth U.S. facility, unexpectedly accelerating a review process that would-be gas exporters and their allies in Congress had criticized as too slow.

This speed at which the latest approval was reached – just five weeks after the previous project – puts the Department of Energy on a potential pace to rule on several more projects before year’s end.

But the permits are drawing concerns from skeptics of unlimited exports who warn that the United States risks giving away the nation’s economic advantage of cheap and abundant energy. They warned that the nation is quickly approaching a threshold that could lead to a spike in natural gas prices that would harm consumers and businesses.

Dominion Resource Inc’s (D.N) conditional permit for liquefied natural gas exports from its Cove Point terminal on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay came just over a month after the Energy Department approved exports from a terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Yes, we know all about the “concerns from skeptics” who warn that “natural gas prices that would harm consumers and businesses,” blah blah blah. That’s nothing more than a big load of blather coming from chemical and manufacturing interests and the lawmakers who love them, as anyone who realizes that free trade is not a zero-sum game will gladly attest. As one of the DOE’s own studies concluded, sure, natural gas prices may indeed rise, but the net economic effect will indubitably be a positive one, because natural gas will be taking advantage of its true global-market value while the producers of that gas — hem hem, Americans — reap the rewards of jobs and GDP growth.


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Good for them. Happy that they are starting to do this… but I hold out any other hope for this might just be a tease to screw us down the road.

watertown on September 13, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Did they run this by Putin, yet?

trigon on September 13, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Sure…and it was Republicans who were delaying this in their evil plan to Bain the country or something…

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Wait until BOR hears about this. “Exporting? We just can’t have that!”

slickwillie2001 on September 13, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Goofy looking man,.

bluegill on September 13, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Is it just me or does Moniz look like a poorly drawn cartoon character?

Wallythedog on September 13, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Four in five years?

Wow. They’re really earning their pay there in DC.

Socratease on September 13, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Goofy looking man,.

bluegill on September 13, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Cartoonish, but I just can’t recall the character.

antipc on September 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Yes, we know all about the “concerns from skeptics” who warn that “natural gas prices that would harm consumers and businesses,” blah blah blah.

Too say nothing of the fact that it will screw with Arab oil!

GarandFan on September 13, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Goofy looking man,.

bluegill on September 13, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Cartoonish, but I just can’t recall the character.

antipc on September 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Oh yeah: Moniz

slickwillie2001 on September 13, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Cove Point’s about as far south as you can get in Maryland without being in Virginia — not quite as out-of-the-way as the state’s western hills past Cumberland, but a place least likely to draw out the environmental fanatics. The big battle is going to be for the natural gas export facility being sought in the Philly area for the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale gas. That’s the one that will bring the ‘Gasland’ fanatics out in full force.

As for the prices, there are actually huge areas in Texas that were being drilled for gin the 2005-08 period that aren’t right now, because at the current prices and the depth/geology of the formations, it’s not economically viable to bring it out of the ground. But it would be at higher prices, which means the normal laws of supply-and-demand take effect — raise the gas price, and you’ll end up not raising it as much as you expect because new production wells in currently nonviable drilling zones will suddenly come on line.

jon1979 on September 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM

As for the prices, there are actually huge areas in Texas that were being drilled for gin the 2005-08 period that aren’t right now, because at the current prices and the depth/geology of the formations, it’s not economically viable to bring it out of the ground. But it would be at higher prices, which means the normal laws of supply-and-demand take effect — raise the gas price, and you’ll end up not raising it as much as you expect because new production wells in currently nonviable drilling zones will suddenly come on line.
jon1979 on September 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Exactly. I live atop the Haynesville Shale and drilling stopped last summer except for a small area that produces liquids. We need the gas price to gain a little more to bring the rigs back because, otherwise, the gas will just stay in the ground and we won’t have those good jobs.

jffree1 on September 13, 2013 at 9:15 PM

Natural gas producers and pipelines are also behind stopping the use of coal fired power plants. If only Enron had been able to stay around for the wind energy ‘boom’ (its wind energy division was gobbled up by GE) and now the natural gas boom.

Kermit on September 13, 2013 at 9:15 PM

And Tiny Tim approves, apparently.

CurtZHP on September 14, 2013 at 12:18 AM

LNG exports is the wrong approach to the abundance of North American natural gas on many, many levels. The author talks about how exporting our natural gas will create a few thousand jobs and dismisses as trivial the fact that EVERY SINGLE American will have to pay more for their electricity and heat forever.

Instead of giving billions and billions of dollars away to wind developers, if we simply spent a fraction of that amount creating the framework for a NG transportation network (similar to the Pickens Plan), we would displace foreign oil and lower gasoline prices, while at the same time creating all the jobs you site as the main reason we want to send our LNG to non-free trade countries. This natural gas transportation system would be financed and built by the private sector, they just need a framework to operate under.

Let me ask you and HA followers a simple question… Do you guys really think that an Obama would make this decision because care about a few thousand jobs? How does that square with the Keystone pipeline stance… by calling this a “win” just demonstrates that you’ve been played by someone who has spent more time thinking about this complex issue than you have.

RedManBlueState on September 14, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Funny, I just read an article that said the best way to reduce Russia’s influence was to drive down the price of energy, reducing the government’s tax revenues. Maybe this is a shot a Putin for his thumb in the eye of the past couple of weeks.

Still, that assumes competency…

grahampowell on September 14, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Don’t worry. They will find a way to screw it up.

virgo on September 15, 2013 at 11:40 AM