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Impact of oil and gas lease moratorium on Louisiana’s economy and environment

Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 10:35 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Oil and gas production make up a large portion of Louisiana’s economy, and stalled growth would have a direct impact on companies and employees, but it could also impact some of the efforts that revenue helps.

Mark Ehrhardt is the Executive Director with Grow Louisiana Coalition, and he says the oil and gas lease moratorium hurts local jobs, but it also hurts the coast.

“Really, it’s a massive step back for the oil and natural gas industry in Louisiana,” Ehrhardt said. “If we aren’t having lease sales, which the moratorium stops, that means tens of millions of dollars that otherwise would have gone to the coast of Louisiana don’t even come in, and that means the coastal master plan that we have in Louisiana, which includes dozens of projects in Southwest Louisiana, those plans get called into question now.”

Local environmentalists disagree. Anne Rolfles, Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, says our state should distance itself from drilling.

“Louisiana has got to make a shift.,” Rolfes said. “Oil is not the only game in town. We ought to be putting wind turbines in the Gulf of Mexico, going after the electric vehicle market.”

Ehrhardt says it doesn’t have to be one or the other. He claims Louisiana has found a good balance between oil and gas production and environmental consciousness.

“We’re making progress as an industry on decreasing the industry’s impact on the environment. Air emissions in Louisiana have gone down by 75 percent over a 30-year period.”

Rolfes says the problem with the industry is much bigger.

“The oil industry has a problem that has nothing to do with Joe Biden and has nothing to do with this presidential administration. If you look at the price of oil and you look at the market over the last 10 years, everything else has gone up, but oil has gone down, down, down.”

The Grow Louisiana Coalition says the energy industry in this area supplies over a quarter of a billion dollars in wages to residents in Calcasieu Parish alone.

President Biden did not place a time limit on the moratorium, so the review of the industry is indefinite.

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