Manufacturers worry exports will drive up natural gas prices

Work is bustling at the construction site of the new ethylene oxide unit at the Huntsman petrochemical plant in Port Neches in 2015. Photo by Kim Brent

American manufacturing companies are worried that a boom in liquefied natural gas exports will reduce domestic supply and raise prices.

The Industrial Energy Consumers of America sent a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday asking his department to deny expedited approval for export permits.

Cheap natural gas will create more jobs in the U.S., the manufacturing association argues.

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“Accelerating LNG exports is inconsistent with President Trump’s ‘America First’ pledge and the desire to build a sustainable manufacturing sector with growing middle class jobs,” the association says in the letter. “Instead of a focus on LNG exports, U.S. natural gas policy should focus on how to use natural gas to maximize job growth.”

Low cost natural gas, the association says, is the driver behind 264 chemical projects representing more than $161 billion in new investment announced since 2010.

LNG advocates, meanwhile, argue that there is plenty of natural gas to serve industry and export at the same time.

“Numerous independent academic papers have shown that LNG exports will be advantageous for the United States, including the Department of Energy’s own study,” said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, an arm of the Natural Gas Supply Association. “This is not a zero sum game. The U.S. has more than enough natural gas to benefit from exports and provide affordable natural gas to consumers and manufactures at home.”