U.S. Gas May Answer EU Energy Concerns, But Should America Export?

Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

The role of the energy industry in international conflict has been widespread, and Ukraine, Russia, and Europe are no exceptions. Now, U.S. energy policy may be tied in with the rest of the strings, with gas concerns in Europe rising as it joins others in isolating Russia after its annexation of Crimea. A solution being encouraged by some in Washington is for the U.S. to increase its gas exports, helping make up for the lack in Europe. “While our government does not dictate were that supply [of gas] will go, it does control how fast we will connect to the global market,” said David Goldwyn, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, to the Senate Energy Committee, according to Reuters.

Now is the time to send the signal to our global allies that U.S. natural gas will be an available and viable alternative to their energy needs,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), according to The Nation. The Senate and House Energy Committees will consider the proposal, but it’s seeing criticism as well from more cautious minds. Some argue that gas prices would increase for Americans as a result, creating huge costs in development, and wouldn’t have a long-term effects on European dependence on Russia. According to Salon though, six permits have been approved for energy companies to start exports to Europe in 2015 with 18 more under review.

The output changes also have an environmental angle, as the most recent approvals will allow 8.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas exports to be put out per day, much of it from fracked shale gas, according to EIA forecasts. Ironically, Russian President Vladimir Putin is critical of the environmental impact such fracking would have, despite the noticeable lack of concern extending to Russia’s own practices. The sentiment is, predictably, considered politically motivated by a desire for control of European energy interests. Still, many with eyes on the environment and on water required as well as disposal of wastewater argue that it is not an insignificant concern ultimately, despite the motivation.

According to EIA’s energy projections, both consumption and production for the U.S. energy industry are expected to see increases in the coming years, and mostly in the natural gas industry, as opposed to renewables, crude oil, and so on. It projects that natural gas will increase by 56 percent between 2012 and 204 when production will reach 37.6 trillion cubic feet.

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The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is arguing for a strengthening of the American energy industry, while stepping back from Russian sanctions, according to The Nation, encouraging the U.S. to “urge speedier approval of liquified natural gas exports, arguing that the move would weaken Vladimir Putin’s control over Europe’s energy supply.”

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