Senator Cassidy says natural gas benefits Louisiana, will ward off global warming

(The Daily Advertiser) – U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy says a U.S. and international shift from coal to natural gas will ward off global warming no matter how President Trump weighs in on international environmental accords.

Speaking in Lafayette on Thursday morning, Cassidy said he’s ambivalent about whether former President Barack Obama’s agreements with global leaders, forged last year in Paris, weather Trump’s own announcement on the accords, which was expected Thursday afternoon.

The Paris pact to decrease greenhouse gases “functions” as a treaty, Cassidy said, but was never presented to the Senate for approval, as the Constitution mandates.

“I don’t like that,” he said.

But Cassidy said the U.S. is shifting from the use of coal to natural gas, which burns cleaner and is plentiful, anyway. That, he said, would improve the environment, the Paris pact’s survival notwithstanding.

Greater use of natural gas would boost Louisiana jobs, too, he said. Louisiana is the nation’s No. 2 producer of natural gas, and has begun exporting liquefied natural gas through global contracts.

In other matters, Cassidy said:

  • Ideas presented in a national health care initiative by himself and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, can help the president make good on campaign pledges for health care. The Cassidy-Collins plan would eliminate individual mandates on insurance, decrease premiums and would grant coverage to those with pre-existing coverage. In addition, it would give states that embrace Obamacare the option to retain it.
  • He’s still encouraging Democrats to engage in Senate health care discussions, although he acknowledges they are under enormous party pressure to resist working with Republicans. Cassidy on the Senate floor has encouraged Democrats to weigh in on health care.
  • Touted his Veterans Emergency Room Relief Act — U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, will introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives — to allow veterans to use urgent care centers for non-emergency health care needs. The Veterans Administration does not cover veterans seeking care at urgent care centers now, but Cassidy said his “common sense bill” would cut wait times at VA hospitals and clinics and may cut costs.

Cassidy also said Louisiana’s congressional delegation can “fight off” Trump administration budget efforts to limit Louisiana’s growing share of Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act.

The state was to begin getting larger shares of federal offshore lease profits next year. At risk: a projected $200 million in funds that would help Louisiana address needs for its crumbling coastline.

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