OUR VIEW: Progress steady, but it’s time Keystone becomes real

Downtown Houma to get more parking, footbridge
January 27, 2015
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January 27, 2015

Firstly, we at The Times would like to extend congratulations to everyone within the Houma-Thibodaux area for a job well done in 2014.

This week’s issue has been dubbed our ‘Progress’ issue. In the special section, we detail all of the ways that our society and economy have evolved in the past year.

Our area has gotten rave reviews. Pretty much all across the board, the news has been positive and the reports have been bright. The 2014 year was good economically, which, in turn, led to a lot of projects that have improved and enhanced the quality of life in our community.

But the one constant in all of this progress for us is the oilfield – every, single person asked said the same thing.

There’s absolutely no denying it. The oil and gas industry is the economic engine that totally drives our area’s economy. It’s our bread and butter. Without it, we are the happiest place on earth. Without it, we are not the same place.

But for as great as things in the Gulf have been in the past 12-24 months, they could always be better.

That’s why now is the time that our local government leaders override President Obama’s wishes and do everything possible to make sure that the amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act becomes reality.

The pipeline would bring new potential to our area that would greatly enhance our ability to sustain economic success.

If the act is passed, Louisiana would seem to be a huge winner.

According to numbers provided this week by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the Chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, passage of the act would mean 20,000 direct jobs and more than 100,000 indirect jobs.

The pipeline is expected to carry a million barrels of North American oil supplies per day to U.S. refineries.

And a lot of those jobs and barrels would flow right through Louisiana, meaning that billions upon billions of dollars would be made within the state – dollar bills that would end up in the bank accounts of the local workers who are calling those jobs their own.

The crux of the Keystone issue would open up nearly all of the outer continental shelf for lease sales. According to numbers, 85 percent of offshore areas are closed, limiting the earning potential that could possibly be had to grow our economy.

Helping Vitter in the effort is Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is an original co-sponsor of the amendment.

Vitter is also an announced candidate in the upcoming Louisiana Governorship, as current governor is term-limited and without an out to run again.

Cassidy’s thoughts recently on the issue perhaps say it best.

“The more money Louisiana receives from offshore oil and gas production, the more we can restore and protect our coasts,” he said. “We cannot let Louisiana’s maritime, shipping, energy and construction jobs be threatened by coastal erosion.”

A life that’s freer from coastal erosion, and a life that’s filled with more high-earning jobs within the Houma-Thibodaux area?

Now that, my friends, is true progress.

Sure, the past year has been great, and everyone involved deserves a lot of credit for that.

But there’s always more that can be done to keep ourselves in a position to enjoy long-term success.

And Keystone would be just that – a long-term way to protect ourselves.

So here’s to hoping that our nation’s leaders remember Louisiana when making that critical vote.

Here’s to hoping that our citizens choose to take part in that progress themselves by calling local politicians and taking part in the democratic process – helping it flow and run the way that it was intended to be run.

Yes, the environment is nice, and protecting it should be of utmost importance. We certainly understand where President Obama is coming from.

But what’s even nicer is having an economy abroad that is more secure than it has been in several years.