UH Debate Considers Whether Natural Gas Exports Will Be Good for the U. S.

Nov. 12 Debate Will Look at Economic, Energy Security and Environmental Concerns

The University of Houston will host a debate on the topic of liquefied natural gas exports and their impact on the United States, as the Department of Energy continues to consider a list of applications from companies asking to export natural gas to countries that do not have free-trade agreements with the U.S.

Four companies have been granted authority to export natural gas; another 20 applications are pending.

The moderated debate, set for Nov. 12, will feature John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute, and Scott Morrison, government affairs manager for the American Public Gas Association.

Ramanan Krishnamoorti, chief energy officer for UH, said the expansion of natural gas supplies in the United States prompted by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, has created a huge shift in circumstances.

“The growth of shale gas production over the last few years has resulted in a significant depression in the price of natural gas and has, in part, become the engine for the growth of the petrochemicals industry in the U.S.,” he said. “As the Department of Energy considers whether to grant more applications, the impact that decision will have on everything from the price of heating our homes to multibillion dollar decisions about expanding petrochemical plants along the Gulf Coast hangs in the balance.

“The debate will offer a better understanding of the complex economic, energy security and environmental issues that surround the issue of exporting LNG.”

The American Petroleum Institute supports increased exports of liquefied natural gas, saying they would spur additional energy production, job creation and economic growth, while the American Public Gas Association has argued that large-scale exports risk raising energy costs here, as well as making energy independence more elusive.

This debate will be the second in a four-debate series sponsored by UH Energy and the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics on critical issues facing the energy industry and the nation. The first focused on hydraulic fracturing; the final two, set for next spring, will look at the threat of climate change, Feb. 11, and the sustainability of renewable energy, March 4.

Dan Wells, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said the symposium series is intended to educate both the UH community and the broader Houston community about the issues facing the energy industry and the nation.

“With experts representing both sides of this charged issue, this debate should be an enlightening and informative evening that can help clarify what is at stake as the federal government decides how many applications to approve for the export of liquefied natural gas,” he said.    

The debate, sponsored by the Houston Business Journal and Houston Public Media, is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Hilton University of Houston Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom, beginning at 6:30 p.m. RSVP to uhenergyseries.eventbrite.com.