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Dust up over U.S. LNG market

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Natural gas companies in the United States say exporting liquefied natural gas would help the economy, though a union says that would hurt energy security.

Paul Cicio, the president of the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, said a proposal to export LNG produced in the United States would push prices higher and endanger energy security.

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He said the proposal by U.S. energy company Cheniere Energy Partners to export LNG from Louisiana ports represents a sizable portion of U.S. domestic demand for gas, which could translate to a rise in prices.

"It is not enough to know that the U.S. has significant reserves of natural gas," he was quoted by the Platts news service as saying. "The question remains what portion of those reserves can be produced at affordable prices and especially at prices that allow the manufacturing sector to flourish."

But James Johnson, a senior vice president at U.S. natural gas company Chesapeake Energy, said LNG exports would improve the U.S. balance of trade by as much as $7 billion.

"This is critical to the future," he said in a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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