The Obama administration has never really been anti-natural gas, per se — they have publicly embraced it as a “bridge fuel” as part of their supposed “all of the above” energy strategy, and even the White House recognizes how much their policies have benefited from the giant economic windfall that is the shale boom — but there is a lot more the administration could be doing to land definitively in the “pro” category. As even super-liberal special Obama adviser John Podesta put it earlier this week, these green groups’ relentless campaigns to do whatever they can to forcefully keep more fossil fuels in the ground and defy all economic reason are just not practical. The administration has signaled that they are willing to consider the wisdom of both the crude-oil export ban and the pace at which they have been approving the liquified natural gas export terminals that would allow us to engage in more global trade, and the Ukrainian crisis especially has led to a major push for the administration to get moving. In the short term, there isn’t much our abundant gas supplies can do to directly help mitigate Russia’ energy-sector death grip, but as Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz just acknowledged, it’s probably a good idea to consider the long-term geopolitical implications of freer global markets as a part of their calculus:
The Obama administration will consider the turmoil in Ukraine as it weighs whether to approve additional exports of natural gas to blunt Russia’s dominance as an energy supplier.
Geopolitics and the effect on global markets are issues the department considers in reviewing applications from companies to build natural gas export terminals, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said today.
“Maybe we will give some additional weight to the geopolitical criterion going forward,” Moniz said at a Bloomberg Government breakfast with reporters and editors in Washington. “But we will never eliminate for sure the issue of implications for the domestic market.”
And of course, we absolutely shouldn’t eliminate for sure the issue of implications for the domestic market. It should indeed be our main consideration — but since that issue has long since been solved, not only as a general free-trade principle but by a major study commissioned by Moniz’s own department — I’m still not getting what the hold-up is other than pressure from radical greens and special chemical and manufacturing interests. President Obama constantly includes increasing exports as part of his personal economic agenda, and trying to pretend that those same free-trade benefits don’t apply when it comes to the energy sector is getting really old.