Our compliments to U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, and the rest of the House's Liquified Natural Gas Export Working Group, for convincing the Department of Energy to allow the export of LNG to countries without a free trade agreement.
The Energy Department authorized Freeport LNG of Texas to export domestically produced LNG. This is a decision that the LNG Group, which includes Republicans James Lankford of Oklahoma, Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Democrats Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Jim Matheson of Utah and Pete Gallego of Texas, has been lobbying for since last year.
''For some time now, our LNG Export Working Group has been focused on addressing the interests and development of domestic LNG exporting,'' the LNG Group said in a news release. ''Despite party affiliations, we have gathered regularly to work toward a common goal: allowing United States LNG manufacturers the free-market capabilities to export and sell their product.''
Freeport is the second company, on a long list of those who have filed requests, to receive permission to export to non-free trade nations.
''Our group commends this progress and encourages the President and the DOE to continue to expeditiously process the requests, evaluating each in a timely order to bring certainty to the LNG export market,'' the LNG Group statement says.
The LNG Group, though, should remember to balance their wishes against the negative impact of higher fuel costs.
Approving export permits to non-Free Trade Agreement countries keeps America ahead of others that also have large reserves of natural gas. A Department of Energy study done by the National Economic Research Associates called ''Macroeconomic Impacts of LNG exports from the United States,'' indicates that the benefits of selling natural gas on the global market outweigh the negative impact of higher prices that would result from increased demand.
That is especially true in Ohio, especially those of us in the eastern part of the state. That's why hundreds of members of the Ohio Petroleum Council, Ohio Oil and Gas Association and Ohio Shale Coalition are lobbying Ohio legislators to expand natural gas development.
An IHS research firm study shows 38,000 oil and natural gas jobs created in Ohio last year and the potential to add 143,595 jobs by 2020 and 266,624 jobs by 2035. The study says the industry paid more than $910 million in state and local taxes in 2011.
But as the Mahoning Valley sits at the edge of an economic boom that some predict could be bigger than steel because of the abundance of oil and gas believed to be in the Utica Shale formation, there is opposition to exporting the products. Dow Chemical Co., Alcoa Inc., Eastman Chemical, Celanese Corp., and others formed a new umbrella group, America's Energy Advantage, to urge strict limits on the number of natural gas export permits that the Obama Administration will soon set. The companies warn against the negative impact of higher natural gas prices for manufacturers.
Certainly Ryan and Johnson must be cognizant of that warning since many local jobs rely on manufacturing. But the current low price of natural gas has stifled drilling in some parts of the country. The Energy Department should continue to expand exportation and monitor pricing as part of ongoing export regulation.