Shale Gas Goes Global, While Benefitting Local Economies

The safe development of clean-burning American natural gas, especially in Pennsylvania, is having a substantial and positive impact on our region’s economy, helping to create tens of thousands of good jobs at a time when they’re needed most. As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports this week, “The growth of the energy sector throughout the [western Pa.] region is tied directly to Marcellus Shale drilling.”

And leaders in Washington, DC, as well as across the world, are keeping a watchful eye on these game-changing energy security, economic and environmentally positive developments, which continue to be driven by innovative, safety-first solutions.

Yesterday, in fact, the U.S. House of Representative’s powerful Energy & Commerce Committee held a hearing entitled U.S. Energy Abundance: Exports and the Changing Global Energy Landscape. The hearing focused on common sense liquefied natural gas (LNG) export policies aimed further leveraging America’s abundant shale gas resources in a way that will continue to benefit our economy, consumers, small businesses and manufacturers, our nation’s trade balance and security, as well as key U.S. allies and trading partners.

The committee’s chairman, Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan, said: “To think that America, in just a short period of time, would be at such a strategic advantage to use our resources to not only help our country domestically with new jobs and energy security, but to also influence Russia’s ability to wield an energy weapon over its European customers, is truly remarkable.

What follows are key excerpts from the hearing.

Congressman Ed Whitfield (Ky.), Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman

  • America’s energy abundance is creating employment opportunities and growth at a time when little else in the economy is going as well – and that alone is enough reason to support domestic energy production.
  • Thanks to American innovations in hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling that is expanding the supply of domestic oil and natural gas. Instead of being beholden to energy exporting nations, we are fast becoming one ourselves. Perhaps nowhere is the reversal more stark than with natural gas.
  • By taking advantage of these export opportunities, we can help our own economy and at the same time strengthen our ties with key allies.

Former U.S. Sen. Bennett Johnston (La.)

  • The Department of Energy in its latest annual report projected a 100-year supply of natural gas with, by 2040, a growth in natural gas production of 40% and a growth in consumption of only 20%. … A study commissioned by DOE concluded that exports of natural gas would not appreciably increase the price.
  • The free market might not always lead to everyone’s definition of the sweet spot, but experience has shown that it is a better allocator and regulator than bureaucrats and politicians. We should heed the admonition of Adam Smith that demand begets supply: Allow the free market to allocate the nation’s newfound energy bounty.

Bipartisan Policy Center co-chair and Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.)

  • Domestic oil, natural gas, and renewable energy production are up, while energy imports are down; new energy development is driving a jobs boom in many parts of the country; and lower energy costs are helping the U.S. manufacturing sector recover. … Thanks to this combination of positive supply and demand trends, our nation is arguably more energy secure than it has been in more than a generation.
  • The recent boom in domestic energy production, much of it linked to the advent of more sophisticated drilling technologies—such as hydraulic fracturing—that have made it economic to develop unconventional resources such as shale gas, is already spurring new investments and growth opportunities, particularly in industries that can take advantage of lower cost natural gas.
  • We believe that the opportunity to increase U.S. energy exports reflects one of the important economic upsides of our nation’s newfound energy abundance. … Expanded exports will improve the U.S. balance of trade, support local and regional economies, and increase the U.S. presence in global energy markets – and do so without harm to the environment or to U.S. consumers and businesses.

Mike Halleck, President Executive, Columbiana Co., Ohio Board of Commissioners

  • Why not pursue exportation to countries that we have open trade with. It would seem to me that not only would this stabilize prices, but give the United States a different standing in the world and make a statement of energy independence.Common sense would tell me that if we are exporting more product abroad, there will be a need for more production, thus more workers needed for this production.

Amy Jaffe, Director, Energy & Sustainability, UC Davis Graduate School of Management

  • The United States has for many decades been the leading nation in championing open markets and free trade in energy. Open trade and investment in energy is important to U.S. vital interests for many reasons. … As American shale production expands from natural gas to oil, the geopolitical benefits will mushroom both by improving U.S. financial strength and by eliminating U.S. vulnerability to economic blackmail.
  • To the extent that energy exports improve our global financial footing, it will not only give us an upper hand with China, which will still be highly dependent on foreign oil imports, but also allow the United States the luxury to regain its strong influence as a donor to global institutions such as the World Bank and United Nations, again enhancing our national power and influence.

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