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Plans To Export U.S. Natural Gas Stir Debate

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File photo of a drilling rig. (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a drilling rig. (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A domestic natural gas boom already has lowered U.S. energy prices while stoking fears of environmental disaster.

Now U.S. producers are poised to ship vast quantities of gas overseas as energy companies seek permits for proposed export projects that could set off a renewed frenzy of fracking.

Expanded drilling is unlocking enormous reserves of crude oil and natural gas, offering the potential of moving the country closer to its decades-long quest for energy independence.

Yet as the industry looks to profit from foreign markets, there is the specter of higher prices at home and increased manufacturing costs for products from plastics to fertilizers.

Companies such as Exxon Mobil and Sempra Energy are seeking federal permits for more than 20 export projects.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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