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The United States Turns On the Gas

The Benign Energy Superpower?

A pressure gauge at a Ukrainian gas compressor station near Kiev, January 2009. Konstantin Chernichkin / Reuters

In January 1959, the Methane Pioneer, a converted World War II cargo ship, set sail from Louisiana for the United Kingdom. It was a historic occasion: the Methane Pioneer was the first tanker to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG). The voyage marked the start of a new era in global energy trade. In the half century since, global LNG trade has boomed, led by countries such as Algeria, Australia, Indonesia, and Qatar. But aside from a small terminal in Alaska, the United States has sat on the sidelines—until now

In late-February, the first ever large-scale shipment of LNG from the lower 48 states set sail. The milestone marked a stunning turnaround. A decade ago, U.S. developers were planning dozens of projects to import LNG to meet rising demand and dwindling supplies. Most analysts thought that Iran, Qatar, and Russia would dominate the supply of gas for years to come. Those

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