Op eds

This op-ed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) first appeared in American Press on April 18, 2021.

There is a growing global hunger for liquefied natural gas (LNG) — an appetite that Louisiana can help satisfy.

In 2019, America became the thirdlargest LNG exporter in the world. According to some estimates, we’re on the path to first place. American LNG exports broke several records last year and are still increasing, despite a global pandemic. Louisiana has contributed greatly to this energy renaissance: Our state produces most of the LNG that America sells to other countries.

The global appetite for LNG keeps expanding because the fuel is cheap, plentiful, supports job growth, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. No wonder the world wants more of this energy resource.

This LNG boom is not just good for America — it’s great for Louisiana. Before the pandemic, LNG companies were expected to invest $60 billion in our state over a decade, which could create 20,000 construction jobs for workers who build new and expand existing LNG terminals, as well as 1,500 permanent jobs for Louisianians who would operate these terminals full-time.

As Louisiana continues recovering from the pandemic and planning for a strong future, we should keep investing in the LNG projects that utilize our skilled workers and support their families. That’s why I successfully passed legislation to bring an LNG Center of Excellence to our state. As the only member of our state’s congressional delegation who sits on an appropriations committee, I advocated for this investment to be made in a Louisiana community. This center will train students in the skills they need to run Louisiana’s LNG terminals, equipping the next generation to supply the market’s growing demand.

The Center of Excellence will also collaborate with our academic institutions to bring together experts, industry leaders, and relevant federal agencies from around the country for promoting LNG and LNG industry safety.

At the same time, Congress needs to get rid of bureaucratic hurdles that make it harder to export America’s LNG to the countries that are lining up to buy it. To meet that challenge, I helped introduce the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act this spring. The bill would remove burdensome regulations that sometimes leave applicants waiting years just to get LNG exporting permits. That would, in turn, boost LNG exports and ensure Louisiana workers can keep meeting the worldwide demand for clean-burning fuel.

Democrats in Congress should take note of how Louisiana produces affordable energy while caring for our environment and coastline. While some claim their goal is fighting climate change, their anti-energy policies often seem better at killing jobs than saving the planet.

In reality, increasing natural gas production and LNG exports will not only cut down on greenhouse gases, it will also reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy while creating jobs here at home. At a time when Louisiana is still rebuilding an economy hammered by the coronavirus, I’ll keep fighting for the workers who produce smart, affordable, and reliable energy.