Continued attempts to misrepresent Louisiana’s relationship with the oil and gas industry ignore the way of life for hundreds of thousands of Louisianans that work in the energy industry daily, acting as the first step in the creation of products hundreds of millions of Americans use and rely on each day.

Attempting to block access to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome demonstrates a severe lack of understanding about what is actually happening in Louisiana and the importance of the industry to the state. How can you say you speak for Louisiana when you’ve just flown in to Louis Armstrong?

As citizens of Louisiana, we all know that energy is a cornerstone of our state, through good times and bad, sunny weather and storms, and even challenging times like we’ve seen these past few months.

Despite the recent downturn in oil and gas, nearly 300,000 Louisianans still work in and alongside the industry today.

As recently as 2011, the industry represented nearly 12 percent of the total earnings of everyone in Louisiana — more than $20 billion, which is larger than the gross domestic product of nearly half of the countries on the planet, as ranked by the World Bank.

In addition to its enormous economic impact, Louisiana’s oil and gas industry is the largest private funding source for our state’s coastal restoration efforts, and it also contributes to projects and initiatives benefiting our environment as a whole. Just Monday, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality recognized ExxonMobil Refinery in Baton Rouge with an Achievement Award in Pollution Prevention for its aggressive efforts and investments to significantly lower its levels of air and water emissions surrounding the facility. There are dozens of major ongoing conservation projects happening today across the coast because of partnerships between the oil and gas industry, local communities and the people of the state. The investments the industry is making and will soon make with millions in new funds for Louisiana from offshore oil royalty payments are in line with fulfilling the goals of the state’s Master Plan.

The oil and gas industry works daily with state and national leaders to facilitate a better, more sustainable Louisiana coast. So not only do oil and gas provide 60 percent of the nation’s power, but the industry also plays a major role in addressing the common challenges we all face in Louisiana — our coast, our environment and our economy.

Attempts to confuse the public only get in the way of the work being done and blur the issues Louisianans really care about — making a good living for your family and protecting the place you call home. Louisiana’s oil and gas industry is a vital part to both.

Marc Ehrhardt

executive director, Grow Louisiana Coalition

New Orleans