Energy Policy: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Elected officials who normally are not very supportive of domestic petroleum, or even hostile to it, have suddenly become big fans of U.S. natural gas in the form of LNG exports.

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[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the June 2022 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine.]

It is amazing how quickly turbulent times can move a topic from being unpopular to generating widespread interest. With the exception of renewables and decarbonization, energy policy has certainly traditionally been the former. For years, many (including myself) have tried to talk up the role U.S. natural gas could play in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions globally, enhancing our ability to support our allies in Europe and lifting nations out of energy poverty.

Despite best efforts, the talk largely fell on deaf ears. Today, however, politicians can’t get enough of energy policy. Over the past month, elected officials who normally are not very supportive of domestic petroleum, or even hostile to it, have suddenly become big fans of U.S. natural gas in the form of LNG exports. It is a fascinating development, considering that just a year ago these same individuals would have rolled their eyes or stared off into space at the mention of LNG.

However, the war in Ukraine has now made embracing U.S. energy policy, and LNG exports in particular, a necessary and patriotic duty. The issue is that exploring, producing and transporting the natural gas needed for LNG exports is still unpopular, and public policies are being implemented that make it harder to export U.S. natural gas, not easier. Specifically, some of the same politicians who see LNG exports to Europe as an imperative still do not support development of oil and gas resources on federal lands, still oppose hydraulic fracturing, still want to stop pipelines from being built and still want to slow down permitting. They remain unwilling or unable to see the relationship between such policies and our ability to export natural gas to our allies.

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