Vitter voices chamber’s concerns

Proposed parish pipeline provides promise
May 3, 2011
Rebecca Cheramie
May 5, 2011
Proposed parish pipeline provides promise
May 3, 2011
Rebecca Cheramie
May 5, 2011

Jobs, federal spending, Middle Eastern turmoil and energy are the national concerns that have a strong connection to the Tri-parish region according to U.S. Sen. David Vitter.

Speaking last Tuesday at the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon, Vitter told a crowd of more than 200 people that the Lafourche and Terrebonne area is the center of coastal and energy activity for Louisiana and the entire Gulf of Mexico.

“When you think about it, putting this area and the Gulf back to work is an enormously important element to almost all the top level national challenges we face,” Vitter said.

The senator noted that the past year had been one of attempting to come out of the worst economic period since the Great Depression of the 1930s, making jobs a top priority.

Part of the problem Vitter identified was spending and federal debt. “We are on unsustainable tract right now in terms of federal spending and debt,” he said. “[Federal debt] will continue to be the center of continuing discussion and debate.”

Vitter said that international turmoil, particularly in the Middle East where oil production stands both in competition with domestic oil and is an issue of U.S. energy dependency.

“All of those [issues] intersect right here in Lafourche [and] Terrebonne. Right here in the Gulf,” Vitter said.

The senator said an appropriate energy policy that made use of oil production while other sources were developed would help America become less dependent upon foreign oil.

Vitter said that funds generated from domestic energy production are second only to personal income tax. “That is a pretty important category … in terms of revenue for the federal government,” he said.

Energy independence is critical for financial stability according to Vitter, and in turn would address other needs and issues.

Vitter addressed his filing of what he referred to as a 3-D Bill. “We introduced this bill a few weeks ago,” he said. “We call it the 3-D Bill because that stands for Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy and Deficit Reduction act of 2011.

“If we dramatically open our domestic energy resources, streamline in a reasonable way the regulatory process, put reasonable timelines on environmental and other review and litigation, stop the over regulation of our energy industry and really [fight] the effort by [the Obama] administration trying to legislate through administrative fiat … we accomplish all those important goals [of] domestic jobs, domestic energy [and] deficit reduction.

“I think the good news is a great majority of the American people share our vision,” Vitter continued. “They are very tired of the stale debate on energy policy that has been going on in Washington since Jimmy Carter and before.”

Vitter said the correct answer is “all the above” when it comes to making use of oil and gas while developing new energy sources, with the two working together. “The problem on the energy front … is that the American people have fallen asleep on the issue. [But] the price at the pump is rising and that is reawakening the American people to energy.”

The 3-D Bill, said Vitter, is simple as it is designed to open up existing domestic energy resources.

“The United States is the single most energy rich country by far. No Middle Eastern country comes close,” Vitter said. “While we are the most energy rich country in the world we are the only country in the world that takes 95 percent of that richness in resources, in terms of energy, and puts it off limits, and says, ‘You can’t touch it.'”

Vitter said the only way that change can occur is for the American public to keep on the federal government’s case. “It is one of the things I am very focused on now,” he said.

“There is a real difference between keeping yourself informed on an issue and being an advocate and a champion of the issue,” said Chamber Chairman J.J. Buquet. “Sen. Vitter has truly been an advocate … [and] we are very, very grateful.”

“Sen. Vitter has been such a friend to Terrebonne Parish,” said Parish President Michel Claudet. “He has been instrumental in getting levees and extremely instrumental in getting out permit for Reach F on the Morganza project. Whenever we have a problem Sen. Vitter is here to help us. He has been a friend to Terrebonne and will continue to be a friend to Terrebonne.”

While in Houma, Vitter was awarded a Spirit of Enterprise award by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President John Gonzales. “I promise you there is no harder working senator than David Vitter,” Gonzales said.

Following the session, Vitter admitted that on the energy front the area continues to face “huge obstacles” from Washington. “Particularly with the shutdown of the Gulf,” he said. “We need to develop new sources of energy and new technology, but we can’t shut down oil and gas in the meantime. We need a bridge to that new energy future as well.”