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Decision on natural gas exports delayed

Among the arguments against hydrofracking in New York State and across the U.S. is that drillers will be taking the gas from New York and elsewhere and exporting it to countries like China and India, throwing a giant wrench in the argument that fracking is the path to energy independence.

But it's not clear that much gas will be exported.

Department of Energy approval is required before gas can be sent to countries where the U.S. does not have a free trade agreement. With the price of natural gas at around $3.00 in the U.S., the debate is raging over whether gas companies should be able to export their product.

There are 12 pending applications for export terminals that would convert the gas to liquefied natural gas (LNG) and ship it to non-free-trade-agreement countries. The DOE had said its review of the economic impacts of natural gas exports would be completed by March, that has been changed to the end of the year. Once it's complete, exports are weighed on a country-by-country basis.

So it appears as if the next president will be the one to decide whether or not natural gas exports get the go-ahead. Right now, almost all exports go to Mexico and Canada, with one terminal in Alaska sending a small amount to Japan.

A January report by the DOE predicted that increased exports would result in domestic price increases, though more drilling in the U.S. would mostly make up for it.

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