Covering Louisiana

Mar 25, 2014 7:51 PM by Dave Fields

Landrieu: Increased natural gas exports means U.S. jobs, weakened Russian influence

U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., presided over her first hearing as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, immediately calling for an increase in new natural gas exports as a means to create high-paying jobs and turn the United States into an energy superpower while "pushing back against the influence of Russia."

Landrieu's push for increased U.S. energy exports marks a defiant response to last week's retaliatory sanctions by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin against nine U.S. officials, including Landrieu. Landrieu may have been included among the nine U.S. officials cited by Putin because of her past criticisms of Putin and because of her new influential position on the prestigious Energy committee.

"I think President Putin should look carefully at the energy revolution in America and how it will affect his plans to be influential and illegally taking areas like the areas like the Crimea," Landrieu said in an exclusive interview with KATC.

Landrieu told KATC that she was able to convene some of the world's greatest experts from energy think-tanks and institutes in order to collect testimony about how "more exports of liquified natural gas" could result in the United States becoming an "energy powerhouse" that does not allow Russia's influence to dominate the world's energy markets.

"Russia's national budget is 52 percent dependent on oil and natural gas, so anything we can do to disrupt their markets and increase competition, will have an impact on their national budget. Most certainly, the actions that they have taken have been aggressive, illegal, and one way to fight that is to strengthen America's domestic production. And as chair of this committee, that's what I intend to do," Landrieu added.

"We all know real competition in real open markets drives efficiency and lowers prices for everyone. The last thing Putin and his cronies wants is competition from the United States of America in the energy race. Tyrants and dictators throughout history have had many reasons to fear revolutions, and this U.S. energy revolution is one they should all keep their eyes on," Landrieu said.

"Even before we start exporting liquefied natural gas from the lower 48 states, the American shale gas revolution has already made a significant impact on the global LNG market. An indication of the radical change the shale gas revolution caused in the U.S. is Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG project. Sabine Pass was completed as a receiving terminal only in 2009 and almost immediately sought to become a bi-directional terminal that can liquefy and export gas as well. It will become the first LNG export terminal in the lower 48 states when it is completed by the end of 2015," the Energy chair explained in a release Tuesday.

Landrieu, who previously had called the Russian president an "ass" following Russia's ban on American adoptions, emphasized that increasing America's presence in the energy market likewise would weaken Russia's influence. When Landrieu was sanctioned last week by Putin, she responded to his decree with a statement of her own.

"Being sanctioned by President (Vladimir) Putin is a badge of honor. It will not stop me from using my power as chair of the Energy Committee to promote America as an energy superpower and help increase energy exports around the world. We must minimize Russia's influence over Europe, the former Soviet states -- especially Ukraine that has fought so long for freedom -- and our allies. And it most certainly will not stop me from advocating for orphans in Russia and around the world," said the senator.

Putin's harsh reaction came within minutes of President Obama's sanctions against Russia in light of the country's recent intervention in the Crimean region of Ukraine. One of the experts Landrieu invited to testify echoed the chair's sentiments about the effect that increased domestic production of natural gas would have on international markets.

"Liquified natural gas (LNG) exports from the U.S. could reduce Russia's stranglehold on energy supplies to Europe. Immediate announcement of a policy of allowing unlimited LNG exports would signal potential competition that Russia would have to meet by offering lower natural gas prices as it renegotiates its supply contracts with Europe," testified Dr. David Montgomery, senior vice president of NERA Consulting.

Landrieu said that the testimony collected Tuesday was an important step toward growth in the energy sector of our economy, particularly for the Gulf Coast region which she dubbed America's "Energy Coast."

"That was the testimony we got on the record. It could mean thousands of jobs for Louisiana and billions of dollars in investments," Landrieu said.



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