As Steven Chu, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, said earlier this year, “exporting natural gas means wealth comes into the United States.”
Before it can be exported, natural gas must be sent to a liquefaction plant, where it is turned into liquefied natural gas (LNG). As such, LNG represents an opportunity to make the most of our abundant energy resources while also bolstering American manufacturing. And as several studies have shown, LNG would come largely from new natural gas production, meaning we can reduce our trade deficit while also continuing to utilize this valuable and strategic resource here at home. Increased development would also yield additional natural gas liquids (NGLs), which are vital feedstocks for many American manufacturing operations, including plastics and fertilizer.
Each proposed LNG export terminal represents a multi-billion dollar investment in the American economy, supporting up to 9,000 American jobs. A single plant could generate as much as $10 million per year in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments. And while critics say exports could impact domestic prices, studies by Deloitte and the Brookings Institution have found the impact would be modest, and the economic benefits would far outweigh any costs.
Beyond the terminal itself, LNG exports will help to create jobs and growth along the supply chain – including natural gas production, manufacturing and pipefitting. Why spend more federal dollars to spur job growth when private investment can do so without further draining American taxpayers?
Last month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that the increased production of oil and natural gas in the United States will help reduce our national trade deficit and place us on the road to energy self-sufficiency. However, ensuring the continued demand for our natural gas resources is a critical component. By allowing natural gas exports, the United States can ensure the continued production of this clean-burning energy source, as well as help reduce our ever increasing trade deficit.
Exporting some of our immense natural gas reserves abroad will augment our already booming natural gas industry – not hinder it. Moving forward with this opportunity is one critical way the United States can assure the continued safe and responsible development of this clean burning energy and the many benefits it provides – energy security, clean power, economic growth, a manufacturing renaissance and more American jobs.
The success of America’s economy stands at a crossroads. The U.S. Department of Energy should move forward with the approval of LNG export projects. The current delay in authorizations for projects ready to move forward is limiting our ability to engage in an American opportunity. As such, the approval freeze is also placing an arbitrary cap on our ability to grow, improve our balance of trade and restore the U.S. economy.
Simply put, natural gas exports are a no-brainer for our nation.
Bill Cooper is the president of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas (CLNG)