In a recent op-ed to the Wall Street Journal, Dow Chemical chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris, calls for a balanced approach to shale gas exports, focusing on its impact on the manufacturing industry and families in the United States.
If oil and gas producers had it their way, they would export as much natural gas to foreign economies as they could in order to increase their profits.
But is this in the best interest of our nation?
Andrew Liveris doesn’t think so. In his op-ed, he argues, “It is crucial to maintain a stable and affordable domestic supply of natural gas” to benefit U.S. consumers and continue the manufacturing renaissance already underway.
He goes on to caution that “hasty government action, coupled with growing domestic and international demands for natural gas, will trigger a severe supply pinch that will send the U.S. back to days of higher and more volatile domestic natural-gas prices” that will have adverse effects on the U.S. economy.
When considering the country’s future, from the potential for millions of new jobs to the basic impact of lower gas prices for families, we can’t let the lure of careless exports outweigh the potential for sustainable national growth.
If history is our guide, Liveris reminds us, let us steer clear of shortsighted policies that squander our economic potential:
The country has been down this road before. In the 1990s, America had low natural gas prices that could have created a competitive manufacturing sector. But a series of policy decisions focused on the near term — including environmental regulations and energy demand created by legislation instead of market forces — drove the price of domestic gas too high, hurting every American who consumes gas. Companies sent nearly 300,000 manufacturing jobs overseas when they could no longer compete. The U.S. lost more than five million manufacturing jobs between 1992 and 2010.
As the Department of Energy decides what kind of exports to allow, it needs to remain acutely aware of the impact its decision will have on the country’s economy. On this front, AEA members support a balanced, rules-based approach that remains faithful to existing laws:
The Department of Energy has already received applications for the export of half the gas consumed in the U.S. today. Under a 1938 law, the department must determine if those applications for exports are in the national interest (taking into account all segments of society).
Several manufacturers, including Dow, are calling for faithfulness to current law.
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