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Ongoing oil & gas lease ban leads to uncertainty of Louisiana’s economy

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Negotiations in the highly sought-after infrastructure bill are gaining steam in Washington. But with renewed calls at putting an end to the pause on oil and gas leases, some state lawmakers feel that Louisiana has more at stake.

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy believes the current pause on oil and gas production, coupled with a pent-up need for better infrastructure, is holding back the economy.

It’s something that can be argued for every state, but he said it holds a different type of weight in Louisiana.

”My concern about inflation is that it’s real. It’s going to chew up the savings of the average middle-income family,” Cassidy said.

Prices at the gas pump are on the rise - something republicans feel is a direct result of President Biden’s pause on oil and gas leases.

”I absolutely agree with ending the pause on offshore oil production - for multiple reasons,” Cassidy said.

During a conference call Wednesday, Cassidy expressed his full support for a recently drafted resolution by Louisiana lawmakers urging the President to end the pause.

READ MORE: La. lawmakers urge President Biden to end pause on offshore oil production

“First, it creates a lot of jobs, not just in Louisiana but across the nation. Secondly, it’s important for our global security,” Cassidy said.

Louisiana led 13 states in suing to overturn the Biden administration’s moratorium on oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

An American Petroleum Institute analysis shows an extended drilling ban would impact the Gulf Coast the hardest, estimating 48,000 job losses in Louisiana alone by 2022. The oil-and-gas industry supported more than 249,800 jobs and contributed more than $73 billion to Louisiana’s economy in 2018, the study says.

With oil production stuck at pre-pandemic levels and demand steadily rising during the summer travel season, Cassidy feels the price will only increase as time goes on.

”I hope it’s temporary, I fear that it’s not,” Cassidy said.

Although uncertainties are growing on the oil and gas front, there’s a glimmer of hope in the ongoing campaign for infrastructure funding surrounding the I-10 and Mississippi River Bridges.

”These issues are priorities in our state - that’s why I list them. Because I think there will be adequate funding for them,” Cassidy said. “There will also be $47 billion dedicated to things, like a resiliency, like flood mitigation, coastal restoration.”

In March, Cassidy introduced the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life (COASTAL) Act legislation to strengthen the current offshore energy revenue sharing program under GOMESA and to create a new revenue sharing program for future offshore energy production in Alaska.

Louisiana constitutionally dedicates revenues from offshore energy production to pay for conservation, restoration, and environmental projects to preserve and restore its eroding coastline.

Sen. Cassidy said there should be a vote on a bipartisan infrastructure plan in the next few weeks.

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