New technologies used to extract natural gas from deep underground shale deposits have put the United States in a leadership position in terms of reserves. Its export potential is limited by a shortage of LNG terminals, however.
U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee for energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, told a receptive group of senators on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that the final word wasn't yet in on more U.S. natural gas exports.
"There are many factors," he testified. "For example, really understanding and observing what happens with elasticity of production when there are exports."
Critics of more exports said it will lead to more hydraulic fracturing, a controversial extraction process seen as a threat to the environment. On the market side, opponents said more U.S. natural gas exports will lead to higher domestic natural gas prices.
Moniz, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist, said in 2011 that he supported a global market for natural gas, the Platts news service reports. Supporters said it will add diversity to a market dominated in some regions by gas leaders like Russia.
Moniz received a warm welcome from both sides of the aisle during his confirmation hearing.