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Energy Dept. approves natural gas export catalyst

May 17, 2013 at 4:53 PM

WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Energy has approved a $10 billion natural gas exporting facility in Texas that has significant economic implications, manufacturers say.

The project called the Freeport LNG facility was "not inconsistent with the public interest," said the Energy Department, which studied the facility's "economic, energy security, and environmental impacts."

The project still requires approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Some manufacturers looking for cheap energy, especially energy-intensive chemical plants, have expressed their disapproval over a rush to export natural gas, which would have the effect of raising prices in the United States.

Dow Chemical Co. opposes the open exportation of gas on an unrestricted basis. At this point, "Dow will adopt a wait-and-see approach regarding further approvals," the company said, although it has kept to its stance that limiting exports would be "far more" benefit to the economy than shipping it elsewhere.

The project is the second to be approved by the Energy Department and there are 19 more waiting approval.

This project has garnered more attention than the earlier project, slated for Louisiana, because of a study released in December that said exporting natural gas will benefit the economy.

But it was only after the first approval came through that the applications began to pile up, the Journal said. In that sense, this approval is being viewed as the one that is the catalyst for what could be many more to come.

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