Golden Pass

Re-Affirming the Benefits of Free Trade

The U.S. Department of Energy has released a long-awaited study that concludes that the U.S. economy as a whole would benefit from exports of some of the abundant natural gas supplies that have been unlocked by the industry’s new technologies.

In prior posts I have written about how unconventional sources of oil and natural gas are creating jobs, strengthening businesses and investment, as well as revitalizing cities and regions across America.

The comprehensive, 230-page DOE study looked at all sectors of the economy and in every scenario concluded the net gains to the U.S. economy from exporting natural gas were greater than any localized loss. This is how free trade works — whether you’re talking about U.S. exports of wheat, computers, or automobiles.

The DOE study’s findings are also consistent with those of other independent organizations, such as the Brookings Institution and Rice University.

In addition, as our public dialogue on this issue has moved forward, the National Association of Manufacturers has re-iterated its support for free trade in relation to natural gas. And the American Chemistry Council has also made its position clear.

What these many different voices share is the belief that the tremendous new supplies of natural gas coming from unconventional sources in the United States are sufficient to meet both our domestic needs and exports.

The simple truth is that free trade encourages more investment, leads to mutual benefit and progress, and, in the case of natural gas, will almost assuredly lead to higher levels of production that support jobs and economic activity across the country.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board recently reached the same conclusion in its piece titled “Energy Economics in One Lesson.”

It is heartening to see how the DOE-commissioned report is already contributing positively to public dialogue on economic trade and sound energy policy. And it reminds us all that we have every reason to be confident in the benefits of free trade.

As The Washington Post board noted in another strong editorial of support for free trade in energy, “When countries can buy and sell to each other, their economies do what they are best at, producing more with less and driving economic growth.”