Energy companies are pressing hard for the U.S. government to lift restrictions on exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), with the American Petroleum Institute recently moving to expand its already robust lobbying force in Washington.

Market prices for LNG are typically higher abroad, and API’s member companies could reap vast profits overseas. But the fight is pitting them against another strong presence in Washington with whom they are sometimes allied: domestic users of their product, including DOW Chemical, who fear that opening up LNG exports to other nations will spike the price of the resource at home, thereby adding to their production costs..

In the past, LNG exports have been limited to countries with a free trade agreement with the U.S.; other nations can import American LNG only with the approval of the Department of Energy. Recently, DOE gave a shipping facility permission to export LNG to Japan, a victory for the oil-and-gas lobby. But many other requests are pending, on hold because of the policy debate.

The clash between the industries was the backdrop in January, when 15 senators co-sponsored the Expedited LNG for American Allies Act of 2013. The legislation, which has received bipartisan support, would allow U.S. LNG exports to NATO member states as well as Japan. These nations would take on free trading partner status with the U.S. for this purpose.


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