The United States is one step closer to being known as a major natural gas exporter, according to a new report from the Energy Department. The report indicates that the benefits of exporting natural gas far outweigh the expense, according to CNN Money.
The Energy Department report on America’s natural gas exportation paved the way for the approval of up to 15 pending export facilities. The multi-billion dollar natural gas export centers exist primarily along the Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, the Washington Post notes.
Although the opening up of the gas export facilities would likely mean thousands of new jobs and tax revenue, the projects are still controversial. Critics of the expansion contend that the project would raise the coast of electricity and natural gas for both consumers and the industry. An increase in the use of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to extract the oil and gas from shale far beneath the surface has other opponents concerned about ground water contamination.
The Energy Department has already approved a natural gas export facility in Sabine Pass, Louisiana. The report was not specific about export amounts. Several scenarios offered by the Energy Department include permitting everything from zero to unlimited quantities of natural gas being exported the United States.
An excerpt from the natural gas study reads:
“In all of these cases, benefits that come from export expansion more than outweigh the losses from reduced capital and wage income to U.S. consumers. Exports have net economic benefits in spite of higher domestic natural gas prices.”
The report was created by NERA Economic Consulting, a division of the insurance and consulting firm Marsh and McLennan.