Today, President Joe Biden will announce a moratorium on all new oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands and in the federal waters.
Local leaders from the Grow Louisiana Coalition and The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) have spoken out against this moratorium.
LABI President and CEO Stephen Waguespack released the following statement:
“President Biden’s moratorium on new federal land and water energy leases is a tremendous blow to hard working families and businesses in energy producing states like Louisiana and the American economy as a whole. This action will hurt investment in the Gulf of Mexico, where over 90 percent of Louisiana’s annual production activity is generated and threaten good-paying jobs from an industry that accounts for almost 30 percent of our state’s GDP. Nearly 250,000 Louisianans are currently either directly or indirectly employed by oil and gas. These workers do so proudly, efficiently and safely. Thanks to their efforts, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested into the state’s budget and coastal restoration efforts over the years, with much more funding going directly to the U.S Treasury. At a time when the federal government is borrowing and spending at an all-time high, writing off the billions of dollars the nation receives each year from energy production on federal lands seems especially misguided and ill-timed.
The businesses hurt most by this action are not the larger entities that can likely rotate investments to other countries, but rather, the homegrown Louisiana entrepreneurs who have built their companies, restaurants and stores over the years from scratch to service our energy producers in communities all across our coast. These small businesses make up the heart of our state’s service-based economy, an army of employers we cannot afford to lose.
While this order was issued under the guise of improving the environment, it will actually make circumstances worse because this order does nothing to curtail the world’s energy consumption needs. America’s demand will rise significantly as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing us to import more resources from unfriendly countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran with weaker environmental safeguards. We will never improve environmental protection by removing American ingenuity from energy production. A better approach is to embrace the American energy sector, partner with them to become more efficient and innovative each year and help reduce the need for foreign sources of energy. This would not only help improve our environment, but also help rebuild our economy and hopefully regain the more than 7,000 Louisiana oil and gas jobs lost since the pandemic began.”
Marc Ehrhardt, executive director of Grow Louisiana Coalition, issued the following statement:
“The Biden Administration’s announcement of a moratorium on new oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico hurts Louisiana’s coast. It doesn’t help it.
Years ago, Louisiana and the oil and natural gas industry had the foresight to create a reliable, ongoing stream of revenue to build and protect Louisiana’s coast. When safe oil and natural gas exploration occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, money is generated that goes directly to funding vital coastal projects in our communities. All in conjunction with Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan, the world’s largest climate adaptation program.
This executive order takes no steps forward. It is a giant step back for the hundreds of thousands of Louisianians working in the energy industry and for our working coast that needs the reliable funding that the energy industry’s work provides.
Every lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico that doesn’t happen prevents tens of millions of dollars from going to Louisiana’s coastal work. It sets our state’s resiliency and productive efforts to protect and improve our coastal communities back years.
Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan receives at least a third of its funding from the revenues generated by the oil and natural gas industry safely working in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the CPRA itself. Since 2018, a major portion of the $266 million Louisiana has received from GOMESA for coastal initiatives has come directly from oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2020 alone, Louisiana received $124 million from lease sales and industry production in the Gulf. In one fell swoop, our state now stands to lose hundreds of millions of much needed dollars to complete projects along our coast.
Projects such as the Bayou Lafourche Pump Station, which provides safe drinking water for over 300,000 residents in a four-parish area, the Bayou Chene flood gate, which protects residents in six parishes, as well as investments in levee system improvements to enhance the climate resilience of coastal communities are all funded by these revenues.
This moratorium will have profound implications for Louisiana’s economy. The bottom line is that it cripples the progress that is being made to protect our working coast.”