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Liquefied natural gas exports are key to America's future [Letter]

Energy ResourcesSmall BusinessesGlobal WarmingU.S. Department of Energy

In a recent opinion piece, Chesapeake Climate Action Network's James McGarry grossly mischaracterized recent studies on liquefied natural gas exports ("Exporting natural gas is a bad deal for Maryland," Nov. 12). In reality, countless studies support LNG exports.

In particular, a U.S. Department of Energy study, compiled by NERA Consulting, found that LNG exports will result in "net benefits to the U.S. economy" and that "consumers, in aggregate, are better off as a result of LNG exports."

Each LNG export terminal is a multibillion-dollar investment that not only creates construction jobs but permanent jobs throughout the value chain. According to a study from ICF International, employment from LNG exports is expected to create between 73,100 and 452,300 jobs nationwide between 2016 and 2035. That means jobs for steel workers, turbine manufacturers, pipe fitters and others, which will help communities across the entire United States.

In a follow up study, ICF International revealed the expected economic impacts from LNG exports on Maryland. By 2035, depending on the level of LNG exports from Maryland, the study indicates that between 480 to 9,500 jobs will be created and income for the state and its residents will increase by between $100 million and $1.6 billion.

Given the scale of this possible job creation and economic growth, it's no surprise that the boards of commissioners from both Calvert and St. Mary's counties support Dominion's Cove Point facility in Southern Maryland. It's also not surprising that the project has the support of labor unions and small business owners in the area.

The U.S. has an abundant and growing supply of natural gas, and thus ample resources to meet all domestic needs and still export a small percentage of its gas for decades to come. In fact, the National Association of Manufacturers has stressed that export restrictions, including on LNG, would "have far-reaching negative effects on the United States and should be rejected."

In addition to its economic benefits, natural gas also advances environmental goals. In fact, increased natural gas use across the country is largely responsible for U.S. carbon emissions falling 3.8 percent last year, to 1994 levels, and is considered an important part of our national agenda for addressing climate concerns.

Supplying American LNG to our trading partners abroad would also help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, since natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and an important complement to renewable sources of power.

There is no question that U.S. LNG exports could be one of our country's greatest contributions to improving the global environment while also creating jobs here at home.

Bill Cooper

The writer is president of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas.

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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