Liberal and conservative media outlets agree the U.S. should export natural gas to break the Russian gas monopoly in Europe. The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have all backed using natural gas a key foreign policy tool.
Lawmakers and the oil and gas industry have been urging the Obama administration to quickly approve liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in light of the crisis in the Ukraine. About two-thirds of Russian gas exports to Europe go through the Ukraine, which has spread fears that gas pipelines could be shut of to keep Europeans from meddling.
“Increasing natural gas exports could serve American foreign-policy interests in Europe, which gets about 30 percent of its gas from Russia,” writes the liberal New York Times editorial board. “Countries like Germany and Ukraine are particularly vulnerable to supply disruptions that are politically driven.”
“A serious President would also fast-forward permits on new liquefied natural gas terminals that could ship to Europe,” writes the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board. “The EU wants unlimited U.S. LNG exports as part of the EU-U.S. trade negotiations. The U.S. has surpassed Russia to become the world’s largest gas producer as supply outstrips domestic demand, and exporting more would be a win for the U.S. economy and global interests.”
The NY Times and the Washington Post have both come out in support of LNG exports as a diplomatic tool after the WSJ suggested unleashing North America’s energy potential by approving the Keystone XL pipeline, allowing crude oil exports and exporting LNG.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been willing in the past to cut off gas to Europe and he controls one-third of the continent’s supplies. Europe could mitigate this by drilling for its own natural gas, but environmental opposition has put that further and further out of reach for much of the European Union. Another solution is getting gas from the U.S.
“Cheap, abundant American resources have helped lower global prices and reduce volatility, and this strategic asset could be turned to increase the pressure on Mr. Putin,” the WSJ says. “He feeds his kleptocracy and client states with petro dollars. U.S. exports would reduce the threat of energy blackmail, and if they reduced global oil prices they’d reduce his influence.”
Energy exports, however, are more of a long-term solution rather than short-term one. The Obama administration is moving slowly to approve LNG terminals and even when terminals are approved they can take years to get up and running.
“In the long term, Europe and Ukraine should continue to make their energy markets more flexible,” says the liberal Washington Post editorial board. “Ukraine should consider building an LNG import terminal on the Black Sea, and the country must clean up its notoriously corrupt energy production sector.”
“The nation has sizable gas resources; wise economic reform would ensure that the prices Ukrainian energy producers get reflect market fundamentals, which would encourage energy development,” the Post wrote. “Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, which are hoping to tap Ukrainian shale gas, could deliver significant amounts by 2020.”
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