Why Gulf of Mexico Oil and Natural Gas Are So Critical

Why Gulf of Mexico Oil and Natural Gas Are So Critical
John McCusker/The Advocate via AP
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Since Category 4 Hurricane Ida made landfall on August 29, south Louisiana has been working tirelessly on recovery efforts as communities across several parishes experienced severe devastation. In the week following Ida, hundreds of thousands of citizens were without electricity, water, phone and internet services. While we were fighting for survival, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee found it befitting to hold a “markup” meeting to discuss and amend a $3.5 trillion budget package which quite frankly is another blow to South Louisiana in the form of crippling our energy economy. 

HNR Committee Chairman Grijalva held this untimely meeting on September 2, only four days after Hurricane Ida came ashore, with no regard to the situation in South Louisiana where their fellow Americans were assessing storm damage and deciding how they would put back the pieces of their lives. In the meantime, Grijalva and the Committee Democrats were considering oil and natural gas policies that are all cost and no benefit. In fact, as the Administration is looking to foreign nations to boost energy production, HNR democrats are proposing policies to reduce U.S. energy development by levying punitive, targeted measures against U.S. oil and natural gas to lower domestic production. The bill would inundate producers with new taxes and fees to create a defacto development ban on federal lands, including the offshore Gulf of Mexico. 

The Committee’s proposals would harm the environment, weaken the economy, and jeopardize America’s national security. In Louisiana, a robust offshore oil and gas industry is the backbone of our coastal economies and provides much needed high wage jobs for our citizens. In addition, offshore oil and gas revenues fund critical coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects that protect our environment, build our precious wetlands, and sustain our unique cultural heritage for many generations to come. Prior to Biden’s offshore leasing ban, Louisiana estimated they will receive $389 million over the next three years from offshore revenues to fund the State’s coastal restoration projects. Has the committee even considered the economic or social impacts of shutting down our offshore oil and gas industry?

If the committee was serious about achieving real climate solutions, they would recognize that crude oil sourced from the Gulf of Mexico has the lowest carbon intensity per barrel of crude than anywhere else in the world, when you consider the transportation impacts from foreign countries. In fact, a 2016 Obama-era report determined that carbon emissions from production in the Gulf of Mexico are less, per barrel of oil, than overseas production. Banning American offshore development could actually result in an increase of global carbon emissions.

The proposal to reduce leasing on federal lands would severely cripple our offshore industry and at the same time would increase emissions by driving oil and gas production to other parts of the world with less stringent environmental standards.

The decision to hold the House Natural Resources Committee hearing last week and proposing anti-American energy proposals demonstrates the insensitivity to Louisianans whose primary focus is the ongoing recovery efforts. Instead of looking to help their fellow Americans in Louisiana during these challenging times, the HNR Committee Democrats took advantage of the opportunity to adopt policies that will punish energy states like Louisiana and ultimately, our country.


Lori LeBlanc is interim president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association and former deputy secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.

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