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Amid concerns over energy policies, Louisianans look to collaborate with the White House on green energy

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 8:18 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - As Louisiana’s oil and gas industry fears President Joe Biden’s energy policies will cost the state thousands of oil and gas jobs, a White House spokeswoman disputes that. Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Cassidy and others are working to make sure Louisiana seizes green energy opportunities that may arise.

The local lament over Biden’s energy policies is fierce. Tyler Gray is President of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.

“When you look at a recent study that we did with the American Petroleum Institute at the end of 2020 in October found that Louisiana could lose up to 48,000 jobs and put about $95 million at-risk of potential loss to the state and that doesn’t even include the dollars that are potentially at risk for coastal restoration through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, or GOMESA, revenues and things like that.”

FOX 8 spoke to White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about local concerns that thousands of Louisiana jobs will be lost due to the president’s energy policies.

“I definitely refute that, and I say that is not true. I know a lot of folks are responding to the executive action that he sent where he directed the Interior Department to review the oil and gas lease program and what he did was he asked for them to pause it, he didn’t ban it, he said we need to pause it because there are some fundamental issues with it, and it needs to be fair and balanced and we need to reset it,” said Jean-Pierre.

She said jobs tied to activities already underway are not affected.

“And so it’s not impacting jobs, you know, if you have a lease to, you know, if you’re drilling right now and doing production you can still do that,” Jean-Pierre stated.

Biden maintains that his plan will create millions of new clean energy jobs. Gray was asked if he agreed that thousands of jobs in the state would not be adversely impacted by Biden’s policies.

“There are parts of it that I disagree with. I think the business is different, it’s hard to compare apples to apples, the installation, the upkeep, cost, all those things...a different type of capital investment and labor, so I don’t necessarily agree that it’s a one-for-one, that you can replace one for the other,” said Gray.

He said what is needed is robust communication between the Biden administration and the oil and natural gas industry.

“What we’re looking for is an opportunity to collaborate. Not only does Louisiana have the jobs at-risk but there are opportunities where Louisiana could be at the forefront of this collaborative space around climate change, around environmental protection, it’s not something that we have to choose between, it’s something that we could do together,” said Gray.

While Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy is strongly opposed to Biden’s decision to halt the Keystone XL Pipeline project, he said he is actively working to make sure Louisiana seizes green energy opportunities.

“I’ve also advocated that if you’re going to create green energy jobs, we should be creating them on the Gulf Coast, for example, we should take the natural gas produced in the Outer-Continental Shelf, you can take the hydrogen atoms from the methane, make hydrogen molecules for clean-burning hydrogen cell fuel and then sequester the carbon beneath the ground.

Jean-Pierre says Biden will soon provide a more detailed plan for the creation of clean energy jobs.

“Look, during the campaign, he talked about the ‘Build Back Better Plan’ that he had which he’s going to introduce in short order,” said Jean-Pierre. “I don’t want to get ahead of the president on this, but he is going to keep his promise on making sure that places like Louisiana get jobs, you know, in the state that are clean energy jobs and that is critical.

In terms of the existing oil and gas industry, Gray said there is a bright spot.

“We have seen the increase in oil prices over the last few months, eking up to a little over $60 a barrel and so, you know, are individual companies, making changes? You know, there’s always, it’s a dynamic situation, so every company is different,” he said.

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