Natural gas exports: The Obama administration dithers while a global market waits

Sometime after the federal government makes its way out of shutdown-mode and President Obama has some time to try to get back into Americans’ good books, we will undoubtedly find ourselves being treated to yet another of the White House’s now infamous “economic pivots” during which the president will pay an ungodly amount of lip service to the need to boost our economic growth above its currently all but stagnant level while simultaneously defending his heavy-handed and top-down policies that are actually keeping it there.

Well-paying jobs, the president will likely insist, are his top priority, and we may even hear a snippet of honesty about how the health of the oil-and-gas industry is contributing overwhelmingly to what economic growth we are seeing — but only a selectively presented snippet. It is infinitely less likely that any of the grand new ideas he will introduce will include an administrative fast-tracking of the natural gas export facilities for which energy companies and foreign markets are openly clamoring.

Here’s an apt example from Mississippi of the type of GDP growth from which the Obama administration is actively demurring, via the Associated Press:

Investors spent $1 billion building a facility in Pascagoula to import liquefied natural gas. But plans to bring natural gas into the United States collapsed when explorers began finding large quantities of natural gas in the United States.

Now, Kinder Morgan, the pipeline company that operates the facility, is trying to get approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to export natural gas to countries with which the United States doesn’t have free trade agreements.

Kinder Morgan Vice President Norman Holmes told the Southern States Energy Board on Monday that approval could spark as much as $8 billion of investment at the plant. The board approved a resolution calling on the U.S. Department of Energy and other regulators to ease and speed up licensing of export facilities.

“Export facilities like this are really going to unlock the true value of these new sources of energy,” said Doug Domenech, Virginia’s secretary of natural resources.

And this is a far cry from the only available example of the projects waiting on the Obama administration’s “deliberation.” The American Petroleum Institute has a handy interactive map made up to help visualize exactly what all these missed opportunities look like; click the pic to see the more than twenty pending applications waiting for the Obama administration’s approval, scattered from Georgia to Texas to Oregon:

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The Obama administration has approved several applications this year, but that’s out of the only four total they have approved total over the past five years. It’s well past time to get a move on.