The regular legislative session has ended, and one of its greatest accomplishments was a unanimously passed bill barring local municipalities from banning natural gas connections. Act 46 is crucial for Louisiana’s economic recovery and growth.
While domestic natural gas has helped power America’s energy revolution and provides clean, low-cost energy to millions, some cities, towns, and counties in California and New York have enacted shortsighted bands on natural gas connections. Fortunately, Louisiana has followed the lead of Arizona, Oklahoma and Tennessee to ensure municipalities do not do the same here.
Thanks in large part to hard-working people in Louisiana, America has surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s top producer of natural gas and oil; we have helped to position our country to become a net energy exporter. According to the nonprofit Empowerment Alliance, as a result of the abundance of clean natural gas, natural gas powers over 30% of America’s energy needs and we have reduced our energy trade deficit by 87%. Because of natural gas, America is well on its way to energy independence — a boon for our national and economic security.
Data at home is more striking. In 2018, the most current available data, nearly 1 million Louisiana residences and businesses relied on natural gas and nearly 33% of our homes used natural gas for their heating needs. Moreover, a whopping 69% used natural gas for electricity — the fifth-highest rate in the country.
The low-cost nature of natural gas is most critical for our working poor and low-income families. Households that use natural gas for heating, cooking and other utilities pay an average of $879 less per year compared to homes using electricity. In Louisiana, where nearly 20% of our people live below the poverty line, such savings can have a dramatic and life-changing impact.
What’s more, because it is a clean alternative to oil and coal and a far more efficient option than renewables like wind and solar, natural gas is contributing to cleaner air in Louisiana and across our country. The U.S. is enjoying its best air quality in the last half-century due in part to the rise of natural gas. Louisiana has experienced similar results on a smaller scale: From 2007 to 2017, carbon emissions fell by nearly 5%.
I applaud our lawmakers for prioritizing this critical legislation. By acting to protect consumers from natural gas bans, all levels of state government have done a great service for Louisiana’s residents.