The Obama administration should “take a timeout” on natural gas exports until economic, environmental and trade concerns “are thoroughly analyzed and carefully addressed,” said a coalition of environmental groups.

In a letter to the President, nine groups, including Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, Earthjustice and the League of Conservation Voters said the Department of Energy’s “flawed economic study,” which was performed by NERA Consulting, should be thrown out and “a serious comparative look at alternative energy and export strategies” done.

The NERA report concluded that exporting domestic LNG to world markets would generate a net benefit to the U.S. economy — and the more LNG exported, the greater the benefit (see Daily GPI, Dec. 6, 2012). Critics of the report have included Dow Chemical Co. CEO Andrew Liveris (see Daily GPI, Dec. 10, 2012) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (see Daily GPI, Jan. 11).

The environmental groups also called for the development of a full environmental impact statement for LNG exports, including the unconventional natural gas production it would require. The increased use of hydraulic fracturing needed for gas exports “would create significant new air and water pollution risks and new waste management challenges…and could worsen climate change by increasing national methane emissions,” they claim.

In contrast to the NERA report, a recent study paid for by Dow concluded that keeping U.S. natural gas at home would yield more economic bang per molecule than liquefying and exporting it (see Daily GPI, March 12). That study mainly on the anticipated growth in gas-intensive manufacturing and how it may contribute to U.S. gross domestic product, employment and the trade balance.

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