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Energy Disinformation Attacks LNG Exports

Countering "disinformation" is the mission of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's newest bureau, targeting for deletion anything they regard as misleading and that threatens our national security. Yet a recently published piece of disinformation about LNG exports, appearing in a widely read inside-the-Beltway political journal, appears to have escaped the censors' notice. Since "an untruth unchallenged becomes the truth", EEIA is correcting the record.

The offending piece, "LNG exports will add to climate change", which ran in "The Hill" on April 18, was written by Professors Anthony Ingraffea and Robert Howarth of Cornell University. They claim that the U.S. is running out of natural gas, that we have only about 15 years' worth of domestic consumption remaining in the ground, and that exporting LNG hastens the end of our supplies, threatens our national security, increases carbon emissions and diverts capital from renewable energy investments.

These claims rely on the professors' misinterpretation of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). They assert that our remaining supplies are limited to "proved reserves", defined by EIA as known, measured gas resources present in actively producing shale and reservoir formations under existing economic and operating conditions. EIA data show that proved reserves today are about 500 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The authors' 15-year supply claim calculates that we will run out of natural gas after withdrawing all of today's proved reserves, at current production rates of about 30 Tcf per year.

But per EIA's own definitions, the correct measure of remaining resources is "technically recoverable resources" (TRR). TRR includes both proved reserves and gas thought to exist in our shale basins, and considered producible over time using existing recovery technology, based on geological surveys.

According to EIA's latest Annual Energy Outlook (2022), "as of January 1, 2020, there were about 2,926 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of TRR of dry natural gas in the United States. Assuming the same annual rate of U.S. dry natural gas production in 2020 of about 30 Tcf, the United States has enough dry natural gas to last about 98 years."

Notwithstanding rapidly growing production, reserves in both categories have increased substantially nearly every year as new discoveries are made and production economics and technologies improve. For example, according to EIA U.S. proved reserves grew almost 3-fold from 2000 to 2020.

Europe now imports about 11 Tcf of Russian natural gas annually, richly funding Putin's barbaric war machine while making themselves hostage to the Europe-wide economic and humanitarian calamity that a sudden shut-off would produce. Putin's stopping deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria is a warning shot "across-the-bow", telegraphing his bigger threat against Germany and other more gas-dependent European economies.

To correct the professors' disinformation, here are the messages EEIA is communicating to the DC policy-making community: Congress, the Administration, and the legion of advocates urging new policies on them. We encourage you to amplify these points through your own communications with your elected representatives:

(1) If America were to supply all of Europe's natural gas needs via LNG exports, even for an extended period, it would barely dent our vast and growing natural gas resources.

(2) As to America's national security, of which energy security is an important part, a Russia enriched by natural gas exports is by far the greater threat.

(3) Substituting Russian natural gas with U.S. LNG will mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. natural gas is produced, transported and processed under far tighter environmental controls than Russian gas.

(4) Without access to adequate supplies of American LNG, the European power sector is reverting to higher-emitting coal to run its electricity generation fleets. Also, increasing U.S. LNG exports to Asia, where coal already dominates power generation, would achieve even greater reductions of climate-changing emissions.

(5) As the world struggles with energy shortages and higher prices driven by lack of infrastructure and suddenly worsened by the prospect of ongoing Russian aggression, investments in our natural gas and oil infrastructure, especially pipelines, directly support America's and our allies' energy security and lower greenhouse gas emissions at a time when it was never more important.

(6) Because of our vast resources and superior technology, with the right policies that enable investment in and construction of infrastructure including pipelines and export terminals, we can fill that role while continuing to provide Americans with reliable and affordable natural gas energy and the countless essential everyday products derived from it.

Please let us know if you have additional points, or feedback that further strengthen these messages, as we continue to communicate them to America's energy policymakers.

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