On the eve of the United States’ shipping off its first load of natural gas — through the almost finished Sabine Pass facility in Louisiana — another country was laying the groundwork to export natural gas as well.

As reported by The Advocate on Jan. 27, Iran is looking to “resurrect a liquefied natural gas project mothballed in 2012, when Western countries levied economic sanctions to halt Iran’s nuclear program.”

Although predictable, this development is unsettling — especially for the hundreds of thousands of Louisiana residents whose work is tied to our energy industry. Iran holds the world’s largest reserves of natural gas and the fourth-largest oil reserve in the world.

Following the recent agreement between the U.S. and Iran — which I opposed — Iran will be allowed to export gas. It will become a considerable trading partner to the world community at a time when the global energy market has been radically upended. As Russia threatens European countries with its leverage of halting gas exports, the United States should be the one leading the way to fill that vacuum with Louisiana-supplied energy.

However, with Iran set to start exporting gas in the next few years, many countries will look to it for business. I’ve been outspoken about my belief that we should not allow Iran — the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorist organizations — to cash in on this opportunity. Iran’s ability to play in global energy markets is a direct consequence of America’s flawed energy policies, which seem to be designed to undermine our national energy security.

While the president claims to support an “all of the above” energy strategy, the facts tell a different story. Recall that the White House adamantly opposed lifting the ban on crude oil exports in October before conceding the point as a trade-off during broader negotiations of the end-of-the-year spending bill. Between a predatory regulatory agenda that targets the energy industry on multiple fronts and foreign policies that favor job creation in countries that do not share American values, American workers are being forced to compete with one hand tied behind their back.

Louisiana depends upon energy as an economic driver and is positioned to become a major player in natural gas exports in the global marketplace, but we’ve been put at a disadvantage by decisions out of Washington that damage our ability to compete.

I will continue to push the White House to change course, and we are working with other leaders in Congress to do the same. The Senate is currently debating a comprehensive energy bill that would expedite LNG exports, and the House passed its own energy bill last month. The president should waste no time signing efforts to speed federal reviews of natural gas infrastructure projects into law.

This is a matter of not only economic vitality but of national security.

Garret Graves

U.S. representative, 6th District

Baton Rouge