Low natural gas prices have led producers throughout the country to focus their attention on both increasing oil production and encouraging more natural gas consumption.
The efforts have led chemical makers and other manufacturers to expand domestic operations and consider moving production back to the United States from the Middle East and Asia because of the relatively low fuel costs.
The natural gas industry also is encouraging individuals, governments and companies to switch to compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas instead of gasoline and diesel.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has taken up the charge and led an effort of 22 governors to ask Detroit to make natural gas-powered vehicles.
One of the more controversial strategies to increase natural gas consumption is the effort to build liquefied natural gas export terminals to send the fuel to Europe and Asia, where it is selling for up to five times as much as here at home.
Natural gas industry leaders have said exports would have a minimal effect on domestic prices while benefiting consumers and producers alike.
They point out that the process of liquefying, transporting and regasifying the fuel would add $5 to $7 per thousand cubic feet, making it preferable in many cases to use the fuel domestically.
They say exports would be used mainly for excess gas and would create a price floor that would let producers increase production without fear of prices dropping so low it is not economically viable to produce.
Some of the country's largest natural gas consumers, however, aren't buying the argument.
Dow Chemical Co. this week said it will not invest in a planned $6.5 billion natural gas export project at a Houston-area terminal it partially owns.
George Blitz, Dow's vice president of energy and climate change, this week told Bloomberg the country's largest chemical maker “has no interest in” the liquefied natural gas project, which could export up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.
Dow has said repeatedly over the past two years that “indiscriminately” exporting natural gas could drive up fuel costs and threaten the industry's planned expansion and construction projects. Dow last month joined with three other chemical companies, aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., steel producer Nucor Corp. and the American Public Gas Association to create a group called America's Energy Advantage to challenge exports.
Last week, Dow withdrew from the National Association of Manufacturers because that group endorsed an export plan.
The struggle between natural gas and chemicals producers likely is just beginning.
If natural gas prices do not go up significantly this winter, look for the export debate to get much louder.