Natural Gas in the Fight for the U.S. Economy & Security

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President Obama touted the importance of embracing American natural gas in his State of the Union speech last month. He highlighted the $100 billion investment that businesses are making in new factories that use natural gas because of its abundance and affordability here at home.

While we appreciate the President’s recognition of the importance of natural gas, the President once again called it a “bridge fuel,” which implies that it’s a temporary, transitional source of energy that will do for right now, but not for the future.

IPAA disagrees and believes natural gas is the fuel of today and tomorrow. Experts say that we currently have a supply of natural gas that would power our nation for more than 100 years. That doesn’t take into account the new technologies the industry is developing every day to extract more natural gas in a more economic and efficient manner. Natural gas is not a bridge fuel. It’s as close as you get to a forever fuel.

Natural gas is powering our economy. It’s making up an increasing share of our electric power generation, lowering costs for consumers — both individuals and corporations. This is life-changing for the poor and marginalized, whose energy bills make up a huge share of their monthly income. It’s bringing manufacturing back to American shores. Right now, we’ve reached a “tipping point” in manufacturing decisions. It’s cheaper to build factories to produce goods here in America thanks to our abundant supply of energy rather than build factories abroad in China or India.

We have so much natural gas that companies are begging the administration to turn liquefied natural gas (LNG) import plants to export plants. The Department of Energy has confirmed that it is indeed a net gain for our economy to export natural gas to countries abroad that need it. However, the agency is still relying on a piece-meal approach to approve these permits. Speeding up this process by expediting LNG terminal approvals would create thousands upon thousands of new jobs, especially in states like Louisiana. Exporting more American-grown natural gas would also greatly help our trade deficit.

The economic gains are so great, that the gains in energy security often come second when explaining the benefits. However, they cannot be underestimated. Right now, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine demonstrates the desperate need of American natural gas in Europe. Russia is a huge producer of natural gas and they can wield this power to shut off their supply in their growing aggression with Ukraine. Increased natural gas from the United States would strengthen America’s leverage in this (and other) tensions with Russia and would give the Ukrainian people a chance at their independence.

Given these circumstances, it’s safe to say that natural gas cannot be simply deemed a “bridge fuel.” The President must recognize natural gas is the backbone of the economy and our energy security and should encourage American production and exportation in order to strengthen our place at home and in the world.

This post was submitted to the Louisiana Oil & Gas Industry’s monthly industry report.