Natural gas is becoming a commodity of choice for the energy industry but an analyst at a Houston conference said it\'s a matter for lawmakers to dictate. The United States is a world leader in terms of natural gas deposits thanks in part to new extraction technologies like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. More than 5,000 people from 80 countries attended the 17th International Conference and Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas in Houston. Upstream director for Royal Dutch Shell Andy Brown said his company expects the boom for natural gas to continue. LNG is becoming a key commodity for trade. \"As an industry, we\'re not waiting for policymakers to decide they want more gas,\" he was quoted by the Houston Chronicle as saying. The newspaper said more than 12 different companies have applied for permits to export natural gas to countries that don\'t have free-trade agreements with the United States. LNG options are limited by the lack of U.S. export terminals. Opponents of LNG exports say it would lead to more hydraulic fracturing, a practice seen as an environmental threat. Supporters say it would help level the playing field in a market with wide price disparities. Patricia Roberts, managing director of research company LNG Worldwide, was quoted as saying the LNG industry is evolving, but \"it is still governments who will decide whether they support the import or export of LNG.\"