Miracles and wonders: White House approves new natural gas export terminal

We rarely get the chance to praise Barack Obama here on energy issues, but this is one of those rare exceptions where something productive has been accomplished. The Department of Energy has (finally) given approval for a new natural gas export terminal to be launched in Palm Beach, Florida. It will supply buyers in both Europe and Asia while providing significant benefits here at home. The Daily Caller has the details.

The Palm Beach terminal will add to the local property tax base, create construction jobs, and improve trade relations with friendly governments, according to the Department of Energy. The DOE gave no exact estimates for how many jobs the Palm Beach export terminal would create, but a previously approved Maryland export facility is expected to create 14,600 jobs and reduced the trade deficit by $7 billion every year…

Global demand for natural gas is expected to be 50 percent higher by 2035 than it is now, but shipping gas to European or Asian markets requires liquefying or compressing the fuel — a costly process. But companies are willing to pay up now in order to sell gas abroad where prices are much higher.

While it took far too long to approve considering the nearly universal agreement that natural gas production is both safe and environmentally sound, this is a good move. There are some more terminals under consideration on both coasts as well as along the Gulf of Mexico and each represents an opportunity for huge, positive economic impacts on their respective communities. This is also a move which allows our allies in Europe to be less dependent on Russia for their energy needs, potentially stiffening their spines a bit if it comes time to impose further sanctions on Putin and hold the line against continued Russian expansion and aggression.

But in order for this to carry on into the future, the next President will need to continue these policies. I’m not too worried about any of the Republicans on this score, but where does the presumptive Democrat nominee stand? That’s hard to say. As with most topics, Hillary Clinton has been on both sides of the issue at various times. In a speech given in Las Vegas last year, Clinton actually trumpeted the benefits of natural gas exports, but made sure to hedge her bets with a lot of qualifiers. (Politico)

“Assuming that our production stays at the levels, or even as some predict, goes higher, I do think there’s a play there,” she said, noting it could help Europe and Asia amid continuing problems with Iran. “This is a great economic advantage, a competitive advantage, for us. … We don’t want to give that up.”

But she also cautioned on the need for “triggers” around export policies, and holding sufficient energy reserves in order to protect American manufacturing jobs.

Still, some industry experts seem to think that Clinton will eventually land on the side of energy exports. In fact, they’re putting their money where their mouths are in terms of bundling for her campaign. This includes a familiar figure from the Obama administration. (Mint Press News)

Lobbyists connected to fossil fuel firms are acting as bundlers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign based on documents uploaded by journalist Lee Fang.

In a post last month for The Intercept, Fang highlighted how private prison lobbyists were helping raise money for Clinton’s campaign. Interestingly, the documents also highlight lobbyists—who also have gone through the revolving door—working on behalf of oil and gas companies…

Tony Podesta, who lobbied the White House in 2013 to push for liquefied natural gas exports, is one bundler for the campaign. Moreover, he is the brother of John Podesta, a former White House official who recently worked with President Barack Obama on environmental issues. Currently, Podesta chairs Clinton’s presidential campaign.

I have to wonder how well this information will sit with Hillary Clinton’s base. They’re already upset that she’s so firmly in bed with Wall Street, so how would the news that she’s got nasty, dirty old Big Oil people collecting millions of dollars for her go over? Her opponents from the Left wing of the party are clearly in favor of dragging their feet on energy exports, keeping the green power wing of the base happy. Barbara Boxer, Al Franken, Ed Markey and Sen. Bernie Sanders sponsored bills to bog down the approval process. (They likely don’t want to come out and endorse shutting it down entirely given the number of jobs at stake and the foreign policy implications, but they’re willing to effectively strangle the effort in a barrage of green tape.)

Still, we can chalk this one up as a small victory on the domestic energy front. Here’s hoping that Barack Obama can manage a few more of these before he cleans out his office.

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