BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) recently expressed its strong support for offshore energy exploration in comments filed to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) concerning the development of the federal government’s five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program for 2017-2022.
Created in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BOEM promotes energy independence, environmental protection, and economic development through responsible science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy and marine mineral resources. The agency currently only allows drilling in the western two-thirds of the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska’s Cook Inlet and a few spots off California’s shore.
“Decisions on areas to include in the leasing program will have impacts well into the future,” LABI President Stephen Waguespack said. “Therefore, LABI believes that BOEM should not exclude any areas from consideration, particularly the Gulf of Mexico.”
Waguespack said Louisiana could not afford BEOM excluding the Gulf from its proposal.
“The Gulf of Mexico provides 20 percent of the nation’s crude oil supply, performing an essential service to meet the nation’s energy needs, and providing jobs and economic opportunities for the American workforce. In Fiscal Year 2014 alone, Gulf of Mexico energy development supported 651,000 jobs, contributed over $64 billion in GDP, and provided over $7 billion in revenue to the federal government, Waguespack said. “Excluding the Gulf could undermine U.S. energy security for decades to come.”
Louisiana is the nation’s No. 2 producer of both oil and natural gas and ranks No. 2 among the states for refining capacity. Louisiana’s energy industry supported tens of thousands of jobs in all 64 parishes and contributed nearly $1.5 billion in states taxes in Fiscal Year 2013 (15% of all taxes, licenses, and fees collected by the state).
Any scenarios that might diminish or end new leases in the Gulf of Mexico from the 2017-2022 offshore program poses significant risks to the nation’s energy and economic security as well as livelihoods and communities across Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Without Gulf of Mexico lease sales included in the 2017-2022 leasing program, the Interior Department estimates that the country would have to turn to imports to replace nearly 60 percent of the foregone production.
Innovation and technological advancements are made every day by energy leaders to protect habitats and safeguard workers while producing the energy that keeps America and Louisiana secure.
The Gulf of Mexico’s offshore resources are a critical component of a sensible national energy policy that promotes access to reliable, affordable domestic energy for years to come.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is the largest and most effective business advocacy group in the state, representing more than 2,200 business members of every size, in every sector and region. To learn more, visit www.labi.org.