The United States doesn’t usually look to Britain for guidance—the last time may have been when Winston Churchill was Prime Minister. That time has come again. This time, the US should follow the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron, who last week said: “Britain must be at the heart of the shale gas revolution.” He pointed out that ignoring the “revolution” could be giving their economy “much higher energy prices than would otherwise be necessary.”
But, the most significant aspect of his comments may well be that the “shale gas revolution” has the potential to “re-industrialise” the economy. That one word—“re-industralise”—may hold the key to the Obama Administration’s opposition to our own “shale gas revolution.”
America’s own “shale gas revolution” is, in large part, responsible for the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) recent announcement citing a 29% increase in natural gas production. The resource is so plentiful that supplies show a storage surplus and prices have remained near decade lows. As a result, in the past seven years, America has flipped from a potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer, to an exporter. Energy companies have proposed 16 projects to export LNG to Europe and Asia. The projects would, according to the New York Times, “generate thousands of construction jobs, spur further development of natural gas fields and generate lucrative export earnings.” Yet the Obama Administration has only approved one export terminal—stalling the economic development the remaining 15 projects would create.
According to Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, there are two “fears” preventing approval of the 15 pending projects:
1) Fear that LNG exports will raise the cost of natural gas and, therefore, hurt consumers, and
2) Fear that LNG exports will cause environmental harm.