With Congressman Greg Walden’s leadership, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed a bill last week (H.R. 6) to prevent the Administration from sitting on natural gas export permit applications. The longest pending permit? Nearly 900 days. There are 24 such permits pending approval, including two in Oregon. Where does the rest of Oregon’s congressional delegation stand on the issue of exporting natural gas? We’re going to find out soon enough.
Over the last six years, no other industry sector has generated more capital investment and jobs than oil and gas. It isn’t even close. Since the end of the recession, employment in the sector has grown by 40% across the country and now supports 10 million jobs. According to a recent study by ICF International, exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) alone could add between 73,100 and 452,300 jobs in the U.S. Another study conducted for the U.S. Department of Energy concluded that, under scenarios that even include marginal increases in domestic gas prices, exporting LNG leads to net economic benefits in the U.S.
A collaboration of U.S. natural gas experts, known as the Potential Gas Committee, recently agreed that the volume of recoverable natural gas is larger than any measured in the group’s history, which dates back to 1964. This is not an issue of shorting the domestic market through export. The question now is how can we leverage these historic supplies to benefit U.S. workers in a way that’s safe and that benefits our economy.
H.R. 6 is heading to the floor this month for a full vote by the U.S. House of Representatives. Will our congressional delegation embrace the economic opportunity that exporting LNG presents, particularly here in Oregon? We’ll know soon enough.