Editorial: Trump administration right to speed process for LNG exports

Published on Tuesday, 12 September 2017 14:13 - Written by

The Trump Administration wants to streamline the process for small-scale exports of liquefied natural gas. That’s great news.

“The Energy Department is proposing to streamline the approval process for companies that want to carry out small-scale exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG),” reports The Hill newspaper. “Under a proposal published Friday in the Federal Register, companies would get automatic approval of gas export applications as long as the proposed exports are 140 million cubic feet per day or less and the Energy Department does not need to do an extensive environmental review. The proposal comes as the Trump administration seeks to ramp up exports of fossil fuels produced in the United States under President Trump’s ‘energy dominance’ agenda.”

Here’s the statement from the Energy Department:

“The United States has an abundant supply of affordable natural gas that studies have shown will significantly exceed domestic demand. Meanwhile, foreign demand for natural gas imports from the United States has increased as many countries, such as those in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, seek to import cleaner sources of energy. The Energy Department believes that facilitating small-scale natural gas exports will allow for greater diversity and competition in the natural gas market.”

That’s great news for Texas, in particular. One reason is that until recently, natural gas has largely been a localized commodity - too expensive to ship very far. And because of that, the markets have been volatile, with wild price swings.

But LNG technology is quickly making it easier and less expensive to ship, opening up more and more markets to Texas-produced natural gas. The bigger the marketplace, the less volatility.

We should do everything we can to encourage exports. They’re good for the economy and even for the environment, as cheaper and cleaner natural gas replaces coal.

“The United States, which has been the globe’s leading producer of natural gas and shale gas since 2009, is now also a net exporter of it - largely because of the doubling of pipeline capacity to Mexico and reduced imports from Canada,” Forbes magazine reported last month. “Demand, no doubt, is on the rise: utilities are shifting from coal to natural gas and manufacturers are expanding their domestic operations. Meanwhile, European and Chinese manufacturers are seeking cheaper supplies, all of which is creating price pressures.”

And U.S. companies are stepping up to meet that demand.

“The U.S. energy agency notes that five liquefaction facilities are under construction here: Cove Point, Cameron, Elba Island, Freeport, and Corpus Christi, all of which will come online in the next three years and increase total U.S. liquefaction capacity from 1.4 billion cubic feet per day now to 9.5 billion cubic feet by the end of 2019,” Forbes explained. “Hydraulic fracturing… is the catalyst for this economic rebirth. In 2000, shale gas accounted for 5 percent of all gas production in the United States and today, it is about 60 percent, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration.”

The Trump administration is right to streamline the process for smaller exporters.