Looking forward and upward

This week the business community is buzzing with the potentials President Donald Trump’s new energy proposals might have for healing a place that has been suffering badly.

Good news is always welcome, and certainly the potential for the Bureau of Energy Management’s plans to benefit our communities is present.

But we also hope that all of it is taken with a grain of salt.

That BOEM will make some areas open for drilling that were not before means more options for oil companies. But that doesn’t mean we will benefit in Lafourche and Terrebonne. It was the oil industry’s hunger for shale oil that has kept the kind of exploration usually done on the coast at a minimum, coupled with an overall global glut, that helped crumble our local economies.

While the oil companies maintain that what is good for them ends up being good for everyone else, we are not entirely sold.

There is too much evidence over time that oil companies, once determined no longer in need of a given community’s help, will not remain out of any sense of loyalty. Motivated by the bottom line like any other business, they are going to go where the money is and maximize what benefits exist.

The upside is that the experience and technology our region has puts local firms and people in a position to give unprecedented help to a rebuilding industry. But that doesn’t mean the money or the jobs will stay close to home.

Does this mean we should not welcome the federal government’s plan?

Certainly not.

Louisiana’s federal delegation members are wise to show support – which they have – for the BOEM plans. Even if changes in the future only mean that Louisiana itself is on an economic rebound, something which could still happen, we do benefit if in no other way than increased sales taxes as a retail center. Equipment rentals and sales are also distinct possibilities.

What we really have going for us is an opportunity to make sure officials in Washington are fully aware of what or situation is down here. And that is going to require some serious citizen involvement.

Whether you own and oilfield-related business or one that is not, whether you have been laid off due to the industry issues or have not, it is important that local people know precisely what the government is planning, how it will affect you both directly and indirectly, and that you speak your mind after hearing all the facts as to what you wish to see done, what plans you agree with and which ones you don’t like.

For many decades our nation has turned into a spectator-democracy, with fewer of us than ever realizing that government by the governed is not accomplished by creating a bureaucracy and letting it run itself. The people and their desires must be the primary focus of government, no matter what party prevails.

President Trump is correct when he says — as he has done indirectly — that “turnover” of American ideals has led to a mess.

But a turnover of running the nation to a popular president will not help much either.

This president and this congress are only as good as the information they possess.

Honest dialogue is what’s needed.

So when BOEM holds its informational meeting in Baton Rouge one week from Monday, as indicated in today’s story, attend and participate.

Get educated on every nuance, on every part of the plan, so that if you are going to defend it you’ll know what you are talking about. For that matter if you plan on helping defeat it, you’ll have your facts straight too.

Recovering from an economic hit such as we have suffered is no easy task, and that’s because it requires participation. It certainly does take a village to raise a village, and to shape the policies that will shape its future.