Candidates lend insights at oil and gas annual meeting

01 29, 2015 by Daily World

Three candidates for Louisiana governor — PSC Commissioner Scott Angelle, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and State Rep. John Bel Edwards — lent their insights on the oil and gas industry at the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association’s annual meeting Thursday in a session that was closed to the news media.

The fourth candidate, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, sent a taped message from Washington, D.C., that could not be delivered due to technical problems. LMOGA said it would send the message to its members.

Before his 20-minute session in the closed-door meeting, Dardenne, R-Baton Rouge, told The Daily Advertiser that he not only supports the industry, but demonstrated that support while he served in the state Legislature from 1992-2006. He said that support included opposition to oil processing taxes.

Dardenne said if elected, he would attempt to mediate disputes between the oil and gas industry and local governments along the coast. The oil and gas industry was involved in litigation involving a New Orleans area levee board that was followed by action on behalf of the industry during the 2014 legislative session. Those who filed suit against the oil and gas industry charged that it was responsible for erosion that plagues Louisiana’s coast today.

Dardenne said that, as governor, he would attempt to mediate such disputes before they turn into costly lawsuits. To his knowledge, Dardenne said, Gov. Bobby Jindal did not meet with all parties involved in the dispute. Fees to defend such disputes are huge, Dardenne said.

Before his appearance with LMOGA’s membership, John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, said the oil and gas industry may be harmed if the WISE fund — Workforce & Innovation for a Stronger Economy — is cut because of an impending state budget crisis.

Jindal signed legislation in 2014 for the $40 million fund, that was created to train workers for hard-to-fill industry jobs, such as engineers, welders and process technology employees.

Edwards, the sole announced Democrat in the race, said that fund is already “on the chopping block” as the state faces what may be a $1.6 billion shortfall in its fiscal 2016 budget. He said he would be part of “good, bipartisan efforts” to find solutions to that budget problems, solutions that he said might include oil and gas leaders. A robust oil and gas industry contributes to the state budget, he said, and the industry should have input in discussing solutions to the budget problem.

Angelle addressed LMOGA first, but The Daily Advertiser was not able to contact him before he left the Roosevelt Hotel, where the annual meeting was held. On his Facebook page, Angelle published this message Thursday:

“I was honored to join many of the men and women that support Louisiana's vibrant energy economy today in New Orleans at their annual meeting.

“Thank you for letting me speak about my passionate support for the brave Louisianians who wake up early every morning, put on their steel-toe boots and hard hats, kiss their families goodbye and set out to do the hard work of fueling America.”