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Should US export natural gas? Study for DOE fuels fiery debate.

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The study for the DOE, by the NERA Economic Consulting of Washington, said the US economy would benefit under all future scenarios in which exports are envisioned. The Energy Department says, meanwhile, it will evaluate the study along with other information.

"Across all these scenarios, the U.S. was projected to gain net economic benefits from allowing LNG exports. Moreover, for every one of the market scenarios examined, net economic benefits increased as the level of LNG exports increased,” the study found. “In particular, scenarios with unlimited exports always had higher net economic benefits than corresponding cases with limited exports."

But while the study projects $47 billion in increased economic activity by 2020, it also goes on to detail that this largesse will not be doled out equally, saying there would be "winners and losers."

"Different socioeconomic groups depend on different sources of income, though through retirement savings an increasingly large number of workers share in the benefits of higher income to natural resource companies whose shares they own," the study found. "Nevertheless, impacts will not be positive for all groups in the economy. Households with income solely from wages or government transfers, in particular, might not participate in these benefits."

Even so, overall "net benefits" from such exports to the economy overcame “the losses from reduced capital and wage income to US consumers," it found. "LNG exports have net economic benefits in spite of higher domestic natural gas prices,” the firm concluded.

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