Jordan Blum, editorial director, Hart Energy: We are here at CERAWeek in Houston. I'm joined by the co-chairs for Natural Allies for a Clean Energy Future. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Representative Kendrick Meek of Florida. Thank you so much for joining us. If you want to just touch on, to begin, just what Natural Allies is working on.

Former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, co-chair, Natural Allies for a Clean Energy Future: Well, thanks Jordan. Congressman Meek and I are so proud to be part of the leadership team for Natural Allies, which is an organization recently formed from midstream gas companies that move about 70% of the natural gas in the United States and labor unions, plumbers, pipe fitters and other men and women that work to build this amazing infrastructure for the nation. And we want to share the message about how powerful and important natural gas is for a clean energy future for our country and the nation and how it works with renewables to help renewable power grow, but you need that firm backup power.

Former U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek, co-chair, Natural Allies for a Clean Energy Future: I agree with the Senator, 110%. It's a very exciting time for the country and an opportunity. With our economy the way it is now and how it can improve with the federal investment, private investment from the industry, and having everyday people like organized labor to pipe fitters and others helping to build America, again, unlike any other time in recent years. I mean, we've always talked about infrastructure, we've always talked about investment, and what we do in Natural Allies is to make sure that not only Democrats, but Republicans and Independents understand the opportunity when it comes. And so that's why this conference is important. That's the reason why we're here.

JB: Very good. So one of the main topics right now is the administration’s so-called LNG pause. Y'all are both Democrats. So I just wanted to get your take on what it means, where things stand.

ML: Well, it was very disappointing, and I actually said it was tragic. And I believe that it was a tragic decision for any number of reasons. I'm not sure it was very helpful politically, although I know that's why the president did it, because he said, and his administration said, we're doing this for political reasons, but it was just tragic in the sense that we have Russia invading the Ukraine, threatening Europe and threatening other allies around the world. In addition to sending them funding and weapons, we should be sending them energy, clean energy from an American source. And to pull that rug from out underneath them, under the guise that we have to study. These reports have already been done, many of them, and what they show is a growing need for more natural gas in the world, not less, an opportunity for America to send our gas overseas, which keeps people from buying it from Iran or Russia, which helps us, our national security. And it was very unfortunate, and I hope it's reversed as soon as possible.

KM: I think the politics will dictate the future of the pause. I think if we continue to speak out about the opportunity, hopefully it will change. Hopefully other members of the environmental community and energy community get a better understanding that it's going to take almost a group effort to make this happen. And natural gas is a part of it. When I served in Congress, I served in the Armed Services Committee, and energy was always a big part of war and peace. And so we have a lot of peace to give to other parts of the world as it relates to natural gas. And so again, I think that hopefully the administration will change its mind. Hopefully the community that understands, which is the individuals that are attending this conference understand, the importance of natural gas, to bring about a solution to energy woes throughout the world and in the U.S. Again, jobs and opportunity is here and ready. And so we want it to continue.

ML: And Jordan, just to underscore this, I mean when you pause natural gas, but you continue to export coal, continue to export oil—now I'm for exporting coal and exporting oil, but natural gas is cleaner, 50% cleaner and more responsible than coal. And America has 200-year supply of natural gas. And we can send that to the world, to the global market and reduce the need to build more coal plants. So we're working on reducing methane from natural gas, which is the immediate reaction. Well, what about the methane? Methane is dangerous to the atmosphere when it's released, and it can be controlled, and the industry is doing a much better job of managing those releases.

JB: Very good. So Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm spoke here very recently. In part, she said that the so-called pause should be “well in the rearview mirror a year from now.” I guess we'll see. But did you want to react any more to her overall comment?

ML: She did say it will be in the rearview mirror, but what you see when you look through that mirror, she didn't indicate at all—whether the pause would be over and we would be back supporting our allies and supporting American business. It's not just supporting our allies with a cleaner option for fuel. It's building the manufacturing base, rebuilding in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin. This is not just about where the exporters are, which are primarily in the Gulf Coast, Louisiana and Texas, but this is about jobs in the heartland of America. And that's why this was, I think, such a bad, really just an ill-advised decision. And there was a difference in the administration. I mean, there are people in this administration that don't agree with that policy, and it was a controversial decision and I'm hoping that the State Department and others that understand how important this is to our allies will step up.

But I do want to say one thing that Secretary Granholm said that was very disappointing to those of us and their hundreds of us here from Louisiana when she called out Louisiana as ‘Cancer Alley.’ I mean, how offensive that was to me personally as a United States senator that's representing our state. And to put the facts straight, that's a moniker that has been put on us that is unfair. Our cancer rate in Louisiana is higher as a statewide than most states because we're a poorer state, and there are reasons for that. We're not the highest. But in those parishes that she talked about, the rate is lower than the state average. So these are industrial parishes, congressmen that are in between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. People refer to this in that pejorative term, but we take offense to it because it is not based on facts. So Louisiana's here, Texas is here, Florida's here, California's here. All the states looking to work together to build a new energy future. And I just hope that that will never be said publicly again by a U.S. official because it's not true.

JB: Understood. So we've been talking about LNG exports. I just wanted to pivot slightly to domestic demand. There's been a lot of talk about the nation's electric grid driven by data centers and other growth and all of a sudden talking about a lot more stresses. Can I just get you to elaborate on just how you see that going forward in the role of natural gas?

ML: No, the demand for electricity is exploding. It's not just because the data centers, although that's driving it, and AI, which is driving it, but the economy is growing. President Biden has actually done some amazing things in office helping to rebuild. He doesn't get as much credit for it as he deserves, but he most certainly, there's a lot of new construction, there's a lot of growth in the country. And so we need to be producing more power, not less. And that's again, how natural gas, which is all over the country. It represents about 45% of our utilities now. We need it to back up renewables and to be a firm power source. So I don't know what you're saying, Florida is one of the fastest growing states.

KM: And I agree with what the senator was sharing with us. Natural gas plays a role in transportation too. A lot of our public buses are powered by natural gas. And so when we look at what we have here domestically, we don't have to fight wars in foreign land to support ourselves. This is a win-win for everyone. Going back to the pauses and the politics and trying to please one another, the administration I think realized their mistake once they made the decision. And it was a bipartisan unreadiness to the decision and the fact that every day Americans need to be red state, blue state, benefit from what the stage that's set now with private and public investment, picking up natural gas even more, being a part of the 2050 solution. So I'm again excited about the message because it's nothing like delivering a message that's factual, that's true, and that's backed up, and we'll bring great results for our country in the future.

JB: Very good. I think really the last thing I wanted to ask is just the language around natural gas, because one of the, I guess, main sayings for natural gas just a few years ago, and the messaging was natural gas as a bridge fuel to the future and becoming more fully dependent on renewables. That's not quite the message today though. Can I get you to elaborate?

ML: Well, because reality has hit, the rubber hit the road. The reality, you cannot run the U.S. economy or any economy in the world on all renewables. They don't run 24/7, the sun doesn't shine all day. The solar doesn't work all day, the wind doesn't blow all day. So you need backup power. In addition, it's difficult to build wind turbines and solar panels for the same reasons. Sometimes, it's difficult to build gas compressors. People are like, ‘we don't want that in our area.’ So you've got supply chain issues, you have nimbyism. So what we need, what Kendrick and I are saying, and what more and more I think leaders are saying is, ‘we need all of the above.’ We need to work together and focus not on choosing the fuel, but on focusing on reducing harmful emissions. And then recognize that natural gas is, it's a bridge, all right. But it's a really long bridge. This bridge is like The Causeway. It's like 24 miles and it goes over Lake Pontchartrain. It's not a five-mile bridge. It's like a 25-mile-long bridge because it's going to be a kind of a glide path. But natural gas is such a perfect partner for this glide path as we pull out more nuclear, small nuclear reactors, our traditional nuclear. There's so many exciting new technologies. So let's stop picking the winners or losers, and let's start focusing on reducing emissions. And let's respect this industry, respect the workers that have built this great infrastructure and build for our future. And that's what Kendrick and I want to do.

KM: Outstanding. We're doing that with Former Congressman Tim Ryan, and also Former Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia. They're both great proponents and have a lot to offer as it relates to messaging when it comes down to this. But this interview has been exciting. Thank you.

JB: Very good. Thank you so much for joining us here at CERAWeek. To read and watch more, please visit online at