LNG export battle could look a lot like Keystone XL fight

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March 16, 2012

(CNNMoney; March 14) - At the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas-Louisiana border, Cheniere Energy could be just weeks away from breaking ground on the first natural gas exporting facility ever built in the Lower 48 states. It's also where a new fight with echoes of the Keystone XL pipeline is building, pitting economic development against environmental protection.

To Cheniere and its supporters, the $10 billion plant represents a boon for the American economy. Known as Sabine Pass, they say the facility will support tens of thousands of jobs, raise billions in export revenue, and help put the nation on track to be an energy-exporting powerhouse. But to critics it will greatly expand the use of hydraulic fracturing to produce more gas. They also say that far from creating jobs, the plant may actually cost jobs and raise the price of natural gas in America.

Project opponents want the government to take fracking into account when considering permits for the Sabine Pass facility and others like it that have applications in with federal authorities. As the country ramps up its gas production, fights like these are bound to become more common. "We don't believe [the] opposition is loud enough yet to change the current course," Whitney Stanco, an energy analyst at the Washington Research Group, wrote recently. "We'll be watching the level of opposition closely." 

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