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U.S. sparks fly over LNG exports

Dec. 6, 2012 at 8:24 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers are divided over a government report on possible LNG exports, with backers touting economic gains and detractors worried about who benefits.

NERA Economic Consulting produced a 212-page report under a commission from the Department of Energy. The report stated that potential exports of liquefied natural gas from the United States could have "net economic benefits" for the country.

"Net benefits to the U.S. would be highest if the U.S. becomes able to produce large quantities of gas from shale at low cost, if world demand for natural gas increases rapidly, and if LNG supplies from other regions are limited," the report states.

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, welcomed the report, describing the U.S. natural gas sector as the "bright spot" in the U.S. economy.

The report said, however, that consumers may pay more as a result of the emerging gas boom. An increase in LNG exports, meanwhile, is "not likely" to affect the overall employment outlook in the United States.

"If exports are approved, the winners are mainly those in the natural gas business and those holding their stock," Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Upton's counterpart on the committee, said in a statement.

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