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CPBJ Extra Blog

What's the story on exporting LNG?

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Margo Thorning, Ph.D., says she has a happy story to tell.

The senior vice president and chief economist at the American Council for Capital Formation was in Harrisburg a few weeks ago to speak at a monthly policy briefing held by conservative communication consultant Quantum Communications.

Her happy story?

“Many people are still in the mindset of energy scarcity,” she told me, noting that many who were alive in the 1970s might recall the Oil Embargo and the fears of what OPEC might do to our supply of oil.

Thanks to fracking, that’s not the case anymore, she said.

“It requires a re-education of the public and policy makers that we have abundant sources of energy,” she said.

We have so much liquefied natural gas (LNG), she said, that we should be doing more to export it. She said the Department of Energy, for whom she used to work, is sitting on about two dozen permits to allow just that. In her presentation, she said there was a 900-day backlog.

“China, India and Japan are begging for our natural gas,” she said.

Failing to act means our competitors — Qatar is one she named — are getting the jump on us. That’s not to mention that exporting LNG could generate an estimated $75 billion in GDP impact, she said.

All of this ties in with a story I wrote a few weeks ago about how the crisis between Russia and Ukraine might lead to Marcellus Shale gas ending up in Europe. Though it’s not the intention of gas companies now, some experts think getting our gas to foreign markets could improve our global security and prowess.

The problem is twofold: Regulations and taxes, Thorning said. (In fact, Rep. Scott Perry, R-York/Adams, said pretty much the same thing to me for my story.)

If there was a way to cut through the red tape (which Thorning and Perry blamed on the current administration) and restructure tax policy to allow for growth in capital (another finger pointed at President Obama) and, therefore investment in pipelines and processing plants, then Pennsylvania and the United States could reap the benefits. Expanding the pipeline capacity, which projects like Atlantic Sunrise would do, is key.

“I think it would send a strong signal to Russia,” Thorning said.

House Resolution 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is designed specifically to get through some of that red tape, she said.

We talked about a few other topics related to Marcellus Shale, as well as capital investment and tax policy. You can watch the video with this blog post to hear a few of them.

What’s your take? Are America’s energy and export policies turning what could be a happy story into a sad one?

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