Rep. Ryan talks natural-gas exports with German chancellor

But getting the exports to Germany is still a difficult task because it lacks a free-trade agreement with the U.S.

The U.S. government must find natural-gas shipments to such countries to be in the national interest under federal law.

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That means those deals face more scrutiny from the Energy Department. Only one proposal has been approved, while 19 are under review.

Industry, Republicans and Democrats are lobbying the White House to open exports to those nations. They say it's critical to find other markets for the glut of natural gas created by the recent domestic energy boom.

Export backers say the economic benefits — such as increased federal revenues and jobs — would outweigh modest domestic price increases for natural gas.

Ryan, who was in Germany as part of the annual Congress-Bundestag Seminar of the Congressional Study Group on Germany, said his district stood to gain from more exports.

“If we play our cards properly, the natural gas boom in our region is an opportunity to both sell this resource abroad and create jobs at home,” he said in a statement.

Some manufacturers and Democrats, however, want to restrain exports. They say natural-gas price hikes would erase the manufacturing industry’s recent gains, and that it could lead to higher energy prices that hurt consumers.

Green groups also caution against boosting exports. Environmentalists worry it would expand hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which they say pollutes groundwater and releases heat-trapping methane into the air.

The drilling practice, which industry says is safe, injects a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into tight-rock formations to tap hydrocarbons.