Lawmakers to visit Port Fourchon

02 15, 2013 by Houma Courier

Members of Congress from Illinois, Florida and Virginia will travel to Port Fourchon next week to participate in a roundtable discussion with local business leaders and experience firsthand how energy production and conservation coexist in coastal Louisiana.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, has helped organize the Offshore Energy Tour for the past five years and said he has always had colleagues volunteer for the visit to Lafourche Parish.

“They’re going to tour a deepwater-drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico,” Scalise said. “That’s part of the process they don’t get a chance to see too often.”

He said aerial tours of the central coastline have been arranged as well.

“They’ll get to see how the coast has eroded and where, and also how we are using coastal restoration to address it,” Scalise added.

Since the federal government and Congress plays a heavy hand in regulating energy production and coastal restoration, Scalise said there can be dividends from exposing lawmakers to the issues on the ground and from the air.

Three Republican lawmakers have reserved spots on the tour, including Reps. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, Dennis Ross of Florida and John Shimkus of Illinois.

Along with Scalise, Griffith and Shimkus sit on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has oversight of oil and gas matters.

And, proving that the tour can just as easily serve as fact-finding missions for visiting lawmakers as much as it can a promotional tool for locals, Griffith is expected to pose his own questions reflecting Virginia’s push for offshore energy production there.

As Louisiana officials such as Scalise and others push to accelerate increased oil and gas royalty payments for the Bayou State, Virginia could possibly prove to be an ally since other energy-producing states would likely benefit from such a provision.

“We’ll be talking about that, getting more revenue sharing up front,” Scalise said.

Scalise said he expected a news conference to be held after the tour, highlighting the policies discussed and addressing upcoming federal legislation.

The roundtable discussion will take place at 3:45 p.m. Thursday inside the Port Operations Center at 108 A.O. Rappelet Road.

It should be a banner day for energy-related policy talk since the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association’s annual meeting will be presenting a congressional roundtable of its own in New Orleans just a few hours prior to the Fourchon event.

Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, the association will also hear presentations from James C. Flores, chairman, president and CEO of Plains Exploration and Production Co.; Charles Drevna, president of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers; Clay W. Vaughn, vice president of deepwater projects for ExxonMobil Development Co.; and Admiral James Watson, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.