As the country waits with bated breath for the Obama Administration to belatedly approve nearly a dozen natural gas export projects, big chemical companies are lining up in opposition.
Leading the charge is Michigan-based Dow Chemical, whose corporate leadership recently voiced its strong opposition to natural gas exports. According to George Blitz, Dow’s vice president of energy and climate change, “too many exports would change [Dow’s domestic manufacturing] profile and would reduce the amount of investments that would be made.”
What the company really seems to fear is that domestic natural gas prices will rise as supplies move into the international market. With supplies expanding rapidly, however, the future of price movements is uncertain at best.
A recent report released by the Department of Energy stated that natural gas exports would have a positive impact on the U.S. economy in a diverse set of scenarios. Exports would produce up to $47 billion of new economic activity in 2020 and bring a $10 billion to $20 billion increase in export revenue.
When all is said and done, protectionist policies that restrict trade are really just another form of corporate welfare. In recent years, policymakers in both parties have approved bailouts and handouts for several industries. Limiting exports on natural gas can have the same effect, favoring one industry over another. We need to open up our trade for all industries and let the market decide who succeeds and who fails.