White House Will Permit More LNG

Gary Cohn, director of the Trump administration’s National Economic Council, participated in the IIF 2017 Washington Policy Summit on Apr. 20. Cohn (a former Goldman Sachs Group president) made statements concerning the policy of the White House with respect to U.S. LNG exports. Bloomberg has posted a three minute video of Cohn’s Apr. 20 remarks, but a (partial) transcript follows:

ADAMS (Tim Adams, IIF President & CEO): You mentioned energy policy. Can you tell me a little bit about how you see the mix going forward… nuclear, coal, [etc.]… are you changing the mix? And, what about climate? COHN: We are supportive of jobs again. We know that coal is a big job creator in the United States. But, we have to allow coal to compete. We’re also a big supporter of natural gas. We’re a big supporter of fracking. We’re a supporter of energy independence. We’re a supporter of free markets. Those things have to work together, and different feedstocks have different economics to them. We’re allowing the free market to be the free market. The biggest issue for us—as an administration—is energy independence and making sure we can control our own destiny.

ADAMS: For the United States or North America? COHN: For North America… but for the U.S. for sure. Look, we’re most concerned about the U.S., but then we care about North America… imported oil… we’re actually starting to export [oil]… Some of these things are good. Building up more and more LNG terminals in the United States and exporting more and more LNG. We happen to have [an energy resource] that the rest of the world needs. More and more LNG is needed and we have huge excess supplies of gas so, we’re going to permit more and more of these LNG plants. We’re going to let these different [energy] feedstocks compete here in the United States and we’re going to be supportive of them because part of creating jobs and part of creating manufacturing in the United States is: “What is your competitive advantage?” We have a big competitive advantage we have cheap energy. And, we need to keep and promote our cheap energy. We ought to use that as a competitive advantage for us.

[ . . . ]

ADAMS: We had Martin Feldstein here this morning. He and [others] recently proposed a carbon tax. I assume that’s not in the mix or something you assume Congress is not willing to take on at this time. COHN: [Shaking his head “no.] It’s not in our mix.

News Reports on Cohn’s Remarks

Bloomberg. Ryan Collins wrote: “If Gary Cohn gets his way, the U.S. could be the biggest exporter of LNG in the world… [Cohn] said the administration would step up approvals for LNG export terminals, starting with a project in the Northwest that he didn’t identify. […] “We could be and should be the largest exporter of LNG in the world […] We’re going to permit more and more of these LNG plants.” Federal regulators are reviewing about two dozen applications from companies seeking to send America’s gas bonanza overseas.

Washington Post. Chris Mooney and Damian Paletta quoted Cohn: “The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to permit an LNG export facility in the northwest. Just think of the transport time from the northwest to Japan versus anywhere else. Then we’ve got to put facilities on the East Coast to get from the East Coast to Germany… The one place we’re going to permit in the northwest, it’s been turned down twice already,’ Cohn said in comments at the Institute of International Finance, in which he called the opportunity for exporting liquefied natural gas ‘enormous.’ While Cohn did not name a specific project, the White House confirmed that Cohn was referring to the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal, which would be sited in Oregon’s Port of Coos Bay.”

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