A long awaited report from the Energy Department issued Wednesday said the benefits of exporting the gas far outweigh the costs.

The report clears the way for the approval of of up 15 pending natural gas export facilities – multi-billion dollar projects situated mostly along the Gulf and Mid Atlantic coasts.

The projects are controversial, with critics saying they will raise the cost of natural gas and electricity for consumers and industry, and increase the use of hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – a method of extracting oil and gas that some say is contaminating the ground water.