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Thursday July 18th, 2019 6:33PM

Trump looks to highlight energy exports in Louisiana

By The Associated Press
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HACKBERRY, La. (AP) — President Donald Trump is highlighting his administration's efforts to ramp up liquefied natural gas exports and boost the country's energy infrastructure as he visits a new plant in southwest Louisiana.

Trump arrived in the state Tuesday to tour a $10 billion export terminal that will liquefy natural gas for storage and shipping. The process involves cooling gas vapor to a liquid state.

Sempra Energy announced Tuesday ahead of Trump's visit that the Louisiana plant has begun producing liquefied natural gas.

Trump cites an increase in liquefied natural gas exports as boosting jobs and cementing the U.S.' role as an energy provider for international markets. The administration has also promoted liquefied natural gas from the United States as a way for Europe to reduce its reliance on Russia for energy.

Joining Trump on the trip was U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who emphasized the importance of selling liquefied natural gas to Europe.

"When Russia sells energy to other countries, they usually attach political strings to that energy. And it's usually things that go against our Western civilization values, our democratic values," Scalise told reporters. "And the fact that we can now sell American energy to our allies around the world, and they can break their links with Russia, they don't have to buy Russian energy, it not only helps our economy, but it helps geopolitically."

The president and congressional leaders are trying to work together on an infrastructure package that would include boosting energy development as well as rebuilding roads, bridges and airports. Trump and Democratic leaders agreed to work toward a $2 trillion package, but it will be difficult for lawmakers and the White House to agree on how to pay for it.

Some Republican lawmakers have described raising taxes to pay for public works improvements as "a nonstarter." Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers will be wary of speeding up environmental reviews to hasten construction.

The nation's top business groups and labor unions support increasing the federal gasoline tax, currently 18.3 cents a gallon. It was last raised in 1993.

Democrats are waiting for Trump to unveil what he can support, knowing an infrastructure package will go nowhere in a Republican-controlled Senate without his strong backing.

The visit is Trump's third to Louisiana since he took office. He will also use the trip to address supporters at a fundraiser in Metairie.

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