Why the Fight Over Natural Gas Exports May Be Overblown

From The Washington Post

By Brad Plumer

One of the big energy issues Congress will face in the coming year is what to do about the glut of cheap natural gas in the United States. Should we start exporting some of that gas abroad and earn a tidy profit? Or keep it here at home?

Since the Department of Energy would need to approve any new export terminals, politicians get to weigh in here. And so far, lawmakers have been split. Some Republicans insist that the United States should expedite natural-gas exports to allies such as Japan. Some Democrats are skeptical, worrying that too many exports could drive up the price of natural gas. Better to hoard the stuff at home and keep prices low for domestic use.

So is there a middle ground here? Perhaps. As more and more analysts study the issue, they’re slowly converging on the view that the overseas market for U.S. natural gas might not be that big after all. If that’s true, then it could prove easier for lawmakers to find some common ground. This, at least, seems to be the view of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who heads the Senate Energy Committee.

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