Bill would ensure quick turnaround for gas-export projects: Guest opinion

Published in The Oregonian

By Margo Thorning

Oregon has a chance to enjoy real economic growth while helping America supply the world with cleaner, more affordable energy – provided the federal government doesn’t stand in the way.

Recently, Oregon state Sen. Arnie Roblan and Rep. Caddy McKeown outlined in an Oregonian column the monumental benefits that Oregonians could gain if the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal is built at the Port of Coos Bay.

They have good reason to advocate for these economic gains: Analysis shows that during construction, the Jordan Cove project will employ 1,768 workers and create 1,530 indirect and 1,838 induced jobs per year. The labor income from the direct and secondary employment will average $182.6 million and $147.4 million a year, respectively.

The direct economic impact of all related Jordan Cove activity is projected at $1.29 billion, with the portion attributed to Coos County totaling $35 million. As Roblan and McKeown outlined, “this economic boost will provide the resources needed to fund law enforcement, enrich educational opportunities for our children and augment other services that have been hard-hit by the contraction of the wood products industry.”

Global demand for LNG is abundant, and we have the abundance of supplies necessary to export while also fulfilling our own needs for decades to come. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects global natural gas consumption to increase by 64 percent and U.S. natural gas production to grow by 56 percent by 2040. This is a tremendous, historic opportunity for the United States. American companies can supply a good portion of this new global demand for natural gas, bringing jobs and money back into the United States.

But right now our own government is standing in the way of this long list of benefits.

LNG export facilities, such as Oregon’s Jordan Cove, must go through a lengthy and burdensome approval process that ultimately holds back economic growth and denies America the ability to respond quickly when events overseas present strategic opportunities. Congress can and should revise the approval process for natural gas exports so that it takes less time and is less costly.

A bill that the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on this week would fix the process by setting a 90 day timeline for LNG export permit application decisions.  Oregon’s congressional representatives – Suzanne Bonamici, Greg Walden, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader – will have to vote on this bill soon. They would be acting in Oregon’s best interests, as well as all Americans, by voting for the streamlined approval process and sending a strong, bipartisan bill to Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to support.

If you want to see the Oregon and U.S. economies grow by supplying cleaner, more affordable power to our friends and allies, let your elected politicians know where you stand. Washington should not make it unnecessarily difficult for Americans to give the world cleaner, more affordable energy and make a profit to boot.

Margo Thorning is senior vice president and chief economist with the American Council for Capital Formation.