A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers has created a new caucus that is dedicated solely to advocating and promoting the use of domestic natural gas. The Congressional Natural Gas Caucus is the first association of its kind and includes two members from Louisiana: Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans. Landrieu will serve as the caucus' first co-chair, alongside Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. She says the post is an important one, especially since the production of natural gas can directly contribute to producing jobs in Louisiana. "A reliable and affordable supply of U.S. energy has profound impacts on every sector of our economy and is the backbone of the U.S. employment base," Landrieu says. "Natural gas is a clean-burning, low-carbon fuel that is predominantly produced here at home."
Among other roles, Landrieu says the caucus will serve to investigate and debate the economic and national security implications of the newfound abundance of natural gas in the United States. That charge, too, has implications for the Bayou State — the Haynesville Shale in north Louisiana is positioned to become the nation's top producing natural gas field within the next six years. The caucus' timing couldn't be better, as the Senate is giving more attention to natural gas in its climate-change legislation, more widely known as the Obama cap-and-trade bill. The legislation, authored by Democratic Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California, includes some financial incentives for natural gas-fired electricity. If adopted, cap-and-trade is expected to increase demand for natural gas. — Jeremy Alford