A surge in low-cost U.S. natural gas production has prompted a flurry of proposals to export liquefied natural gas (LNG). A string of permit applications are now pending at the Department of Energy (DOE), and more can be expected; lawmakers are also debating the wisdom of allowing LNG exports. This paper proposes a framework for assessing the merits of allowing LNG exports along six dimensions: macroeconomic (including output, jobs, and balance of trade), distributional, oil security, climate change, foreign and trade policy, and local environment. Evaluating the possibility of exports along all six dimensions, it finds that the likely benefits of allowing exports outweigh the costs of explicitly constraining them, provided that appropriate environmental protections are in place. It thus proposes that the DOE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approve applications to export natural gas. It also proposes steps that the United States should take to leverage potential exports in order to promote its broader trade and foreign policy agendas.
[On the role of the United States at the COP 24 U.N. climate negotiations] They don’t have credibility and leadership capacity and leverage, of course, the way they used to.
[On the role of the United States in the COP 24 U.N. climate negotiations] In Paris there were a lot of countries who took a deep breath and went beyond their comfort zone. [At COP24 at the] political level, there’s no U.S. leverage. The absence of the U.S. hurts for sure, but I think there are plenty of grownups who can get us there ... It would be a different deal if the U.S. were here.