A task force on climate change, led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., called on the Department of Energy to take a closer look at the dozens of applications to export liquefied natural gas.
Natural gas is a cleaner fuel to burn when compared with coal, though methane emissions during production have sparked concerns from environmental advocates.
The 17-page report from the task force said LNG exports could cut global greenhouse gas emissions by offsetting coal use but there are lingering and significant uncertainties about the full potential.
The report points to Energy Department studies suggesting some U.S. utilities may switch to coal because LNG exports would raise the price of domestic natural gas, thereby increasing emissions in the United States. While LNG represents a significant economic opportunity, the Energy Department is urged to look closely at all aspects of the industry.
"We recommend that Department of Energy conduct a thorough analysis of the climate change impacts of proposed LNG exports, including the effects on both domestic and overseas emissions," the report said.