On Monday, the White House announced that it would postpone a decision until after the election on whether to allow natural gas exports to non-Free Trade Agreement countries. While this is just one of a thousand decisions Obama has postponed for political reasons, it is an important one. It puts hundreds of thousands of good jobs at risk.
For natural gas to be exported to countries in Europe and Asia, it must be liquefied at plants such as Cheniere Energy's plant at Sabine Pass, Texas. The Sabine Pass liquification project, one of many under development or consideration, would create 50,000 jobs in the natural gas supply chain, in addition to jobs constructing and operating the plant itself. Overall, a dozen such plants could create as many as 750,000 new jobs, and each of those jobs would spawn others as wages were spent on homes, cars, food, and other purchases. But the president refuses to approve liquefied natural gas exports to non-FTA nations. Is there some reason, other than politics, why the exportation of natural gas is acceptable only to nations with which the U.S. has free-trade agreements?
The only reason, it turns out, why the president is blocking LNG exports is his quaking fear of the environmental lobby.
When Obama met with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan on April 30, Noda brought up the issue of gas exports. In the wake of the Fukushima accident, Japan has shut down all but one of its nuclear reactors, and it desperately needs to obtain reliable long-term alternatives to nuclear energy. Importing liquefied natural gas from the U.S. is an obvious solution, and one that benefits both Japan and the U.S. But instead of reaching an agreement, Obama and Noda merely "acknowledged the significance of proceeding with discussions," which is diplomatese for "no deal" at this time. According to reports, administration officials told the Japanese that they could not reach an agreement because of "political sensitivities." So the reason millions of Americans are without jobs is the president's "political sensitivities."
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