Earlier this year an ICF International study found that exporting U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) would have dramatic national impacts on jobs, economic growth and revenue generation for government.  Now a second ICF study shows what the impact of LNG exports would look like on a state-by-state basis. They’re huge:

  • LNG exports could contribute as much as $10 billion to $31 billion per state to the economies of natural gas-producing states such as Texas, Louisiana and Pennsylvania by 2035.
  • Producing states could see employment gains as high as 60,000 to 155,000 jobs in 2035.
  • Non-producing states also will benefit, partly because of the demand for steel, cement, equipment and other goods used in natural gas development. ICF said states including Ohio, California, New York and Illinois will see gains to their economies as high as $2.6 billion to $5 billion per state in 2035.
  • In terms of jobs, large manufacturing states like California and Ohio will see gains of 30,000 to 38,000 in 2035, ICF says.

These and other findings in the report are significant as they help make the conversation about the U.S. shale revolution and LNG exports more local – and more relatable as our country continues to recover from economic recession. API’s Kyle Isakower, vice president for regulatory and economic policy, discussed the study with reporters:

“… for American workers, the best is yet to come. The export of liquefied natural gas – or LNG -- represents one of the most promising economic opportunities of the shale revolution. These exports will significantly reduce our trade deficit, increase government revenues, grow the economy, and support millions of U.S. jobs in engineering, manufacturing, construction, and facility operations.”

These benefits are contingent on policy decisions that allow the United States to make the most of its vast shale reserves and its current advantage in hydraulic fracturing technology and know-how to become a major player in the emerging global market for LNG.

While the administration has approved applications for four LNG export projects over the past two and a half years, 22 other applications for export to non-Free Trade Agreement nations remain under review by the Energy Department. These should be approved. Isakower:

“America is in a global race to build this infrastructure and secure a competitive position in the international market. More than 60 international LNG export projects are currently planned or under construction around the world, and those nations that act quickly to attract these investments will reap the economic rewards. Fortunately, U.S. workers are in a very good position to win that race. But it is critical that the Department of Energy address the backlog of 22 applications to sell LNG to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the United States. Each of these terminals could create thousands of jobs, grow the economy, and significantly increase government revenues.”

America has a tremendous opportunity with home-grown natural gas, much of it developed from shale through fracking. Yet, the opportunity could be squandered.

Some continue to argue against the free trade of a valuable U.S. commodity. They claim the Energy Department’s recent decisions on export facilities has pushed the U.S. into a “danger zone” of negative impacts on consumers and job creation. This, even though study after study shows the opposite: that the U.S. would realize broad job and economic benefits with the export of LNG.

The fact is America has ample reserves of natural gas to meet domestic needs and supply friends overseas.

natgas_consumption_export

We’ve used this chart before. The bars on the left show the current U.S. natural gas resource base as estimated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and ICF. On the far right is EIA’s projection of total domestic natural gas consumption over the next two decades. Barely visible is a projection of U.S. LNG exports, 2015-2035. Clearly, supply dwarfs projected consumption. It is a picture of resource abundance, not scarcity.

The laws of supply and demand, not the artificial picking of winners and losers, should hold forth on LNG exports. Markets will determine how many export facilities will be built. Likewise, market demand for LNG will spur additional natural gas production domestically.

Bottom line: The United States has a unique opportunity, as the world’s largest producer of natural gas, to be a leader in its global trade – with considerable economic and job benefits accruing here at home. If we act now.