Landrieu: Natural Gas Exports Will Create Thousands of High-Paying Jobs, Support U.S. Allies

First hearing under Landrieu’s leadership

March 25, 2014

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, today held a hearing on how increasing exports of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) will create thousands of high-paying jobs and support U.S. allies abroad. The hearing, entitled “Importing Energy, Exporting Jobs — Can it be reversed?,” was Sen. Landrieu’s first as Chair of the committee.

Download the text of Sen. Landrieu’s opening statement as delivered or download an audio actuality.

Chair Landrieu Presiding over Committee Chair Landrieu points to poster

“Thanks to extraordinary and swift advances in technology to locate, capture and produce natural gas, today this committee will discuss the expanded opportunities to export LNG, the possibilities to create high-paying jobs in America and support our allies in Europe and budding democracies across the world,” Senator Landrieu said. “Nowhere is this more evident than in my home state of Louisiana and all along the Gulf Coast – America’s energy coast! The oil and gas industry supports over 300,000 jobs in Louisiana, and has been a major factor in securing below average unemployment for the last 5 years.”

A 2013 study by David Dismukes at LSU found that by 2019 more than 200,000 jobs will be created by new unconventional energy production in Louisiana alone. A recent LSU report estimated that from 2012 – 2018, approximately $47 billion of private sector investment will be made in new and existing plants and projects in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis Parishes. That investment is expected to create more than 37,000 new, high-paying jobs.

Testifying before the Committee were Mr. Adam Sieminski, Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, The Honorable Jaroslav Neverovi?, Minister with the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania, Dr. David Montgomery, Senior Vice President of NERA Economic Consulting, Mr. David L. Goldwyn, Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution, and Edward C. Chow, Senior Fellow with the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

“Average annual U.S. natural gas prices have remained relatively low over the past several years as a result of the availability of abundant domestic resources and the application of improved production technologies,” Mr. Sieminski testified.  

“Accelerating America’s entry into the global natural gas market is a win–win–win situation. America wins through job creation, economic growth, more revenues for government. Customers across Europe win by access to more competitive, clean-burning U.S. natural gas. And, strategic cooperation of NATO allies would be strengthened—consequently stability on the European continent wins when monopolistic levers of influence are reduced or eliminated,” Minister Neverovi? testified. “The present situation in Ukraine has taught us all one lesson—no nation should be able to use its monopolistic energy supplies to punish any other nation. So, in conclusion, my message to you is simple. Let’s work together to let competition in, push the monopolists out, and bring natural gas prices down in Europe as they have come down in America.”

“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,” Dr. Montgomery testified. “The power of this signal will depend on whether it is accompanied by effective action to accelerate the shale gas revolution by avoiding or removing unreasonable regulations, costs, and constraints on natural gas exploration and production.” 

“The dramatic growth in natural gas reserves and production in the United States over the past five years has resulted in economic growth, relative reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and greater energy security. Every credible estimate of our energy future suggests we will have substantial exportable surpluses of natural gas for decades to come,” Mr. Goldwyn testified. “This bounty could enhance our national power by positioning our nation as a reliable supplier of natural gas to regions of the world that suffer from intimidation from their suppliers or simply the economy crushing burden of oil linked prices. The question before us is not whether we have this geopolitical potential, but whether we will realize it in time to help our friends and allies.”

“Even before we start exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the lower 48 states, the American shale gas revolution has already made a significant impact on the global LNG market,” Mr. Chow testified. “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.”

Last week, Russia sanctioned nine U.S. officials, denying them entry into Russia because they hold views in opposition to Russia’s actions against the Ukraine. Sen. Landrieu was among the nine sanctioned officials.

“Being sanctioned by President Putin is a badge of honor for me and the people I represent. And it has only encouraged me to redouble my efforts to increase domestic energy production here in the United States and make the U.S. a global leader in energy exports. America can and should be an energy superpower in all aspects of conventional and advanced sources of energy including new alternative fuels and alternative energy sources,” Sen. 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! I look forward to playing a role to bring energy security and independence to America and our democratic allies around the world, to advance freedom of speech, freedom of religion and yes the freedom of the press, as well as a new promise to hold leaders accountable for what they do. Today’s hearing is part of this effort.”