China, India Choose Coal as U.S. Blocks Natural Gas Exports

China and India are ramping up coal power production, causing dramatic increases in air pollution, while U.S. government officials block construction of natural gas export facilities that would alleviate Asian air pollution. In the latest instance of government obstruction, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) bureaucrats cited environmental concerns while blocking construction of a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Jordan Cove, Oregon.

China and India lead the world in new coal power plant construction, with each nation currently building over 100,000 megawatts of new coal power capacity. This is occurring despite both nations voicing a desire to reduce their reliance on coal power. Both nations suffer debilitating air pollution, yet each nation is struggling to find alternate power sources that are economically competitive with coal power.

Shanghai is one of many Chinese cities battling debilitating air pollution. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Shanghai is one of many Chinese cities battling debilitating air pollution. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

With much worse air quality than the United States, studies have reported up to 750,000 people in China and up to 500,000 people in India die prematurely each year from air pollution. The latest data indicate carbon dioxide emissions, which often correlate with air pollution as a whole, have leveled off in China during the past three years. In India, however, carbon dioxide emissions are accelerating.

The United States has an abundance of clean-burning natural gas, which would dramatically reduce air pollution in China, India, and other nations that rely primarily on coal. However, U.S. government officials at the local, state, and federal level have impeded the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals. Ironically, government officials often assert environmental concerns for blocking LNG export terminals.

People often view economic growth and environmental stewardship as competing forces. We are told we need to choose one or the other. By removing barriers to the export of natural gas, Americans can boost our economy and improve the global environment. Who can oppose that?

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