Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell continues to purposefully misrepresent the oil and gas industry’s relationship with the state of Louisiana.

Commissioner Campbell’s allusion to “Big Oil” is a myth.

According to a recent article in Forbes, independent oil and gas firms, which usually contain around 15 or less employees, constitute 54 percent of the nation’s oil production and 85 percent of natural gas.

Thousands of businesses in Louisiana fall into the category of independent firms and have achieved much success thanks to oil and gas. Lumping these businesses owners and the nearly 300,000 Louisiana industry workers into one category frankly discredits the work they have done to get where they are today.

Commissioner Campbell’s claim that the industry does not pay its fair share of taxes is also far from correct. Louisiana’s oil and gas companies are some of the state’s largest taxpayers, and state taxes paid by these companies have increased significantly in recent years.

In 2013, the industry directly paid nearly $1.5 billion in state taxes and fees, which accounts for nearly 15 percent of total state taxes, licenses and fees collected. This is in addition to the enormous impact the industry has on local government coffers. Parish governments received $410 million in ad valorem taxes in 2013 directly paid by oil and gas companies. That’s more than $1 million per day going to fund new hospitals, schools, roads and other vital infrastructure for our local communities.

Adding to this staggering contribution from companies is the $20.5 billion in household earnings the industry generated, which, in addition to the ad valorem tax revenue, led to a more than $1.3 billion boost to local government treasuries. These earnings benefit every Louisiana resident.

More important than all of the economic benefits it brings to Louisiana are the people the oil and gas industry represents. Industry workers come from every parish in the state. They are your friends, your families and your neighbors. You see them at church on Sunday and you pass them in the aisles of your local grocery store. Oil and gas are important parts of the fabric that holds our state together.

Grow Louisiana Coalition believes that, as Louisianians, we have a large stake in the future of our oil and gas industry and should want to protect and grow it. Louisiana’s future, including that of the industry, lies in all of our hands. It’s time we stood up for it.

Marc Ehrhardt

executive director, Grow Louisiana Coalition

New Orleans