Chris John: Oil and gas are vital to Louisiana

08 19, 2013 by Houma Courier

he Louisiana House-Senate Transportation Committee met last week to discuss the New Orleans levee district’s lawsuit against oil and gas companies for damage to the state’s coastal wetlands.

State legislators, business and industry leaders and Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority head Garrett Graves echoed the same message: The solution to Louisiana’s coastal problems does not lie in big verdicts and huge plaintiff payouts.

Rather, it is through sound science and coordinated efforts for the gain of the entire state.

As Graves noted, oil and gas companies have provided land rights and donated money and in-kind services to coastal restoration efforts.

He said projects that are underway now are going to be impeded because of this lawsuit.

Not to mention, this frivolous suit also jeopardizes industry’s existing assets in the state and the billions of dollars in planned economic development projects.

Louisianans recognize the multiplier effect of the oil and gas industry in their communities and the fact that new investment by industry offers economic stability for our children and grandchildren.

In Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes alone, employment in the oil and gas sector, including support activities for mining, refining and pipeline industries, averaged more than 6,000 in 2010, with total wages paid greater than $464 million.

And, those are only the direct effects; these numbers do not include the multiplier or spillover effects, which are far greater.

Louisiana residents know our industry is in large part responsible for our state’s low unemployment numbers and stellar economic condition.

They are frustrated at yet another attack on the industry that is the economic engine of our state.

Local and state leaders have worked hard to create a business climate that fosters confidence in business and industry to bring their investments to Louisiana and yet again, the plaintiff attorney “industry” is seeking to hinder this progress.

Our industry’s commitment to Louisiana, its people and its coast is unwavering, and we will continue to be a part of the solution, one that puts Louisiana first by working together with state leaders and the industry for a better, sustainable Louisiana coast, not one that puts us in a courtroom for the next decade.