Issue Brief

The Controversy over US Coal and Natural Gas Exports

Mar 14, 2013 | Joel Darmstadter

Key Findings

  • Coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports will almost surely confer net economic benefits to the United States.
  • Withholding US coal exports is a self-inflicted wound; other producers can fill the gap to meet world demand.
  • LNG exports signify a range of possible domestic natural gas price increases, but most estimates point to price levels still well below those experienced a decade ago.
  • Aggravated domestic environmental impacts from export-caused increases in coal and natural gas output must be viewed in context. Compared to environmental oversight over much larger output serving domestic needs, this incremental burden seems manageable.
  • A casual, politically driven retreat from its traditional free-trade commitment is scarcely in the interest of the United States.