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Cassidy slams Democrats for stance on gas, deriding 'foolishness' on LNG

Highlights

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Washington — Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican-Louisiana, on Thursday swiped at Democratic presidential candidates, telling an LNG sector forum that those on the left would do away with benefits brought about by exports of the super-chilled natural fuel.

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"We in this room understand the benefits of natural gas and liquefied natural gas as it ships around the world," Cassidy said at the forum hosted by the oil and gas and LNG sectors exploring notions of how LNG could help meet environmental goals, lift people out of poverty around the world, and bolster global security.

"There is an assault on that which we know to be true. Anyone who has watched the [Democratic] climate debate has never known such foolishness ... as in that debate," said Cassidy, who is up for re-election in 2020. "Well, we could just pass it off and say ... no big deal, but we have to recognize there's a chance that one of those folks is going to be president of the United States."

Cassidy's comments came as another Democratic debate was planned for Thursday night. CNN recently hosted a seven-hour town hall-style event focused on climate change.

FRACKING BANS

"Several [Democrats] have said they will of first order eliminate fracking," Cassidy noted. Those embracing a ban include senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

"Beto O'Rourke, I think, said that," Cassidy continued, questioning whether O'Rourke had not run into a Texas family, much like families Cassidy suggested he met in Louisiana who were elevated out of poverty or whose children had college degrees because of employment created by the industry. O'Rourke has said he opposes new oil and gas leases on federally protected land or offshore.

Interview: Pioneer CEO says fracking ban would cut US oil output by 60%

Cassidy's comments come as Democrat candidates have increased their focus on the need to address climate change, with some embracing stricter controls on gas production and emissions in the US.

"Let's recognize that climate change is an issue. We would love to lower emissions," Cassidy said, adding that his state has lost more land to rising sea levels than any other state. But he pointed to the role of US gas prices in helping lower CO2 emissions by displacing coal-fired generation, and added his state had a lower carbon footprint than in 2005, despite now having a larger economy.

ELECTION STORIES

"We know that if you employ gas, you actually enable renewables," he said. "That is a story to tell, and I think we better tell it, because if we don't tell it we might get a president who gets elected by demagoguing all these things."

Cassidy went on to describe natural gas as the way to export benefits around the world, including the ability to displace use of coal, and lowering emissions in China and other economies, as well as improving the US balance of trade and undermining the oil and gas economies of Iran, Russia and other countries with which the US has geopolitical tensions.

"I think we've seen on the left a willingness to eliminate the jobs that 6.7 million Americans hold that are directly involved in oil and gas and all those downstream jobs the example of which President [Donald] Trump celebrated when he went to Hackberry, Louisiana, to talk about the next export LNG plant being opened," he said.

"We should never allow those on the left to bully us into sending millions of families into poverty."

-- Maya Weber, maya.weber@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Pankti Mehta, newsdesk@spglobal.com