As reported in the GEO-DC blog of December 11, 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued its study concluding that liquified natural gas (LNG) exports to non-free trade countries were consistent with the public interest and asked for comments by January 24, 2013.
On March 19 Chris Smith, the deputy assistant secretary for oil and natural gas, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements. He reported that DOE received over 188,000 initial comments and approximately 2,700 reply comments on its study. He also stated that DOE will make its public interest determination on the 19 pending export applications on a case-by-case basis, adding the public comments to its consideration. He gave no timetable for the process.
In the mean time, much of the debate is playing out in the media. Many natural gas production and distribution groups and business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have made statements in support of natural gas exports.
Those opposing LNG exports have varied rationales. Dow Chemical resigned from the NAM in opposition to the association’s support of LNG exports, and stated its concern that exports could raise the price of chemical feedstocks. Environmental groups object to LNG exports because of concerns about greenhouse gas emissions from export-driven growth in natural gas production. Groups that oppose hydraulic fracturing oppose LNG exports on the grounds that they would stimulate more shale gas development.