LAFAYETTE, LA — “The eastern Gulf of Mexico has always been the next frontier for us”, said Gifford Briggs, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President.
The state’s oil and gas industry is looking East to grow, but three bills in Congress could end that opportunity forever.
“We know that there are billions of barrels of oil ready to be produced”, Briggs said. “We know that we would likely service those platforms and drilling operation”.
Together the “Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act”, “Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act of 2019” and the “Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act” would permanently ban new oil and gas leasing off both East and West coasts, Florida, and parts of Alaska.
The bills aim to stop President Donald Trumps’ plan to expand offshore oil and gas development.
Democratic Florida Representative Kathy Castor introduced the Florida bill. She says it is, “Because the Trump administration is pressing to open new areas to dirty and dangerous drilling”.
Her fellow lawmakers argue the bills will protect America’s tourism and fishing industries, but some manufacturing, trade, and labor groups say the bills will damage the U.S. economy.
“We’re one of the only countries, if not the only country in the world that puts our natural resources off-limits”, Briggs said.
According to him, the business has seen better times in our state. In 1987, 55 rigs operated between south Louisiana land and inland waters. Compare that to now and Briggs explains, “We’ve got zero rigs running in inland waters and either two or three rigs in south Louisiana land that’s nothing”.
Briggs said over time oil rigs have been forced to go deeper and deeper in the Gulf of Mexico, and that’s expensive. Layer on top of that legal issues. Briggs says several billion-dollar lawsuits are driving investors out, “People look at Louisiana and say, ‘why do I want to take the risk?”
So he hopes if the attitudes don’t change on land, perhaps the opportunities will change on the eastern coast, “There’s plenty of shallow resources available in the eastern Gulf if we can get there, and that would be a real shot in the arm for the oil and gas industry in Acadiana”.
The three bills did pass the House of Representatives, but they still have to pass the Senate and be signed by President Trump to become law.
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy released this statement after two of the bills passed the house of representatives Wednesday.