The U.S. is unfairly hoarding its cheap gas, said Chris Huhne, and we British pay the price in high heating costs. The wholesale gas price in Britain is nearly three times as high as it is in the U.S., where the fracking boom has flooded the market with natural gas. That price difference is artificial. True, natural gas is hard to ship, since it has to be “liquefied, put in special ships, and then regasified when it arrives.” But that doesn’t justify the U.S. government’s foot-dragging on approving new export terminals, in violation of its legal obligation as a World Trade Organization member not to restrict exports. Surely that reluctance is due at least in part to the “fierce lobbying” against export terminals by U.S. chemical, steel, and “other energy-intensive companies.” They want to keep the gas price low in the U.S., since it gives them “cheap inputs and a big competitive edge on Europe.” If the gas were exported, the price would rise a bit in the U.S. market—and come down over here. Meanwhile, it’s not just our pocketbooks that suffer, but also our lungs. Since the U.S. replaced coal with gas to fuel some power plants, American coal producers have been “dumping their product in Europe.” In a truly free market, gas would replace coal “on both sides of the Atlantic.”
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