Gas exports could put nation in ‘danger zone’, trade group tells Moniz

HOUSTON — Exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas could drive the country into “a danger zone” in which higher natural gas prices for consumers and manufacturers drag down economic growth, a trade association said in a recent letter to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

The Department of Energy should freeze its export permitting process while it develops legal standards to determine when approving projects is in the public interest, the trade group America’s Energy Advantage said, “before lasting harm is done to our economy.”

The letter comes months into a lengthy debate over the impact of LNG exports on natural gas prices and the economy, as more than a dozen export projects wait for the department’s approval. Lobbyists for the oil industry argue that more U.S. natural gas production will come online to offset increased demand from international buyers, keeping prices relatively low.

So far, the four approved export projects have a combined capacity of 6.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The lobbyist group said it has “filed motions to intervene and comment” in the DOE’s export permitting process.

“It is very clear that the cumulative impact of these LNG export approvals has, in fact, undermined the public interest,” said America’s Energy Advantage, which represents manufacturers and public natural gas distribution companies, in its Nov. 8 letter.

Meanwhile, the oil industry trade group American Petroleum Institute released a report Thursday that posits states across the U.S. — and not just LNG-exporting states — will see more jobs and increased income because of higher exports.

The natural gas supply chain “is so large,” and the API’s study shows that the greater the export volumes, the greater the economic benefit to the country, Kyle Isakower, API’s vice president for policy and economic analysis, said in a conference call with reporters Thursday.

The Department of Energy “should approve these projects as quickly as possible” because worldwide demand for natural gas is expected to remain high through 2025, Isakower said.

“We need to move quickly while the window of opportunity is open, so we can realize the economic benefit of those export facilities,” he said.

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