Washington, D.C. — With the recent expansion of shale gas development, the United States is poised to become a net exporter of natural gas. Last week saw two major regulatory authorizations regarding liquefied natural gas, or LNG, exports—one from the Department of Energy and one from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC—which has renewed the debate about whether increased LNG exports should be prevented or encouraged. In particular, the effect that LNG exports would have on global emissions has been in dispute.
In a report released today by the Center for American Progress, titled “The Climate Implications of U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG, Exports,” Gwynne Taraska and Darryl Banks argue that while increased LNG exports could theoretically benefit the climate, the conditions are formidable.
“It is true that LNG exports could partially displace the use of coal overseas, which would decrease CO2 emissions from power plant operations,” said Taraska, a Senior Policy Advisor at CAP and the research director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University. “However, there are other aspects of an increased exports scenario, such as emissions from the liquefaction process and methane emissions that could work to offset the benefit of coal-to-gas switching. Moreover, there is a danger that increased exports could lock in the use of fossil fuels and pose long-term harm to the climate.”
The report recommends that at least these three conditions would be necessary for LNG exports to be defensible from a climate perspective:
- Methane emissions are strictly controlled domestically and overseas
- The exported LNG displaces coal or prevents new use of coal
- The exported LNG does not displace low-carbon power sources or impede growth in the use of low-carbon power sources
For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, contact Tom Caiazza at gro.ssergorpnacirema@azzaiact or 202.481.7141.